Trigger Warning // Sexual Harassment
Please note that this article makes reference to sexual harassment which some readers may find upsetting.
The number of women in employment in the United Kingdom has risen through the decades. Research shows that 76 per cent of women aged between 16 and 64 are currently employed compared to 52 per cent in 1971.
Legal requirements set by the Equality Act 2010 and the Employment Act 1996 enabled thousands of employers to tackle women’s underrepresentation in the workplace and allowed them to facilitate gender equality when it comes to career opportunities.
However, despite these positive achievements, women in employment still face several barriers, such as the gender pay gap, pregnancy and maternity.
We have put together a list of 10 facts about women in the workplace that will give you a sense of where things stand.
In 2018, the United Kingdom ranked fifteenth in the global gender gap index
In 2019, the United Kingdom was in a minority of countries to have a woman as a Prime Minister, Theresa May. Moreover, the proportion of female MPs in the House of Commons has significantly increased from just three per cent in 1979 to 32 per cent in 2017.
However, despite women approaching equality in British politics, the wider workplace did not experience such fast progress. In 2018, only 7 per cent of FTSE 100 companies had female CEOs. Even though the low proportion of women in higher positions inarguably contributes to the gender pay gap, men’s salaries were still higher than women at each civil service level.
The gender pay gap is more evident in specific sectors over others. For instance, in the financial industry, the United Kingdom experiences a difference of 35 per cent between men and women’s average hourly pay rates.
Women’s overall weekly working hours are increasing faster than men’s
The difference between genders in the amount of weekly paid working hours has significantly shrunk over the last 19 years. While men’s overall working hours have increased by 11 per cent since 2000, women’s weekly working hours went up by 29 per cent.
Moreover, men have significantly reconsidered the structure of their working schedule, especially after the coronavirus outbreak. Research conducted by the Resolution Foundation shows that one of the main reasons women’s working hours have increased over the years is to protect their family income. Since the 1970s, women have increased their paid working hours by more than five hours and have reduced unpaid hours by three, including childcare duties and household chores.
BAME women directed less than 1 per cent of top movies in the UK
Women of colour directed 13 of the 1,300 top movies between 2007 and 2019. Last year, a group of BAME British filmmakers sent an open letter to the UK film industry about their concerns on BAME women being underrepresented in front of and behind the camera.
In UK television production today, BAME directors are both under-employed and underrepresented. This has a significant impact on society because directors are influential storytellers whose diversity of voice, vision and perspective should reflect the wider community. Further analysis at the sub-genre level revealed several areas where a BAME director has made 0 per cent of episodes.
Women and men look for jobs differently
There are distinctions between male and female job-seekers according to findings. Research shows that there are three main areas in which women differ considerably from men:
- Women tend to look for jobs in different ways and platforms to men.
- Women rely on additional resources when evaluating various prospective employers.
- Women often focus on different aspects to men in a potential new role.
While men are more likely to navigate traditional job boards and social media to find a job, women tend to rely on people they know, such as friends or family. Additionally, female job-seekers are more likely to use employee review sites.
The most common reasons women leave their job include changes in their personal life or lack of compatibility with their employer or company. On the other hand, men tend to leave their job to seek higher income or career progression.
Since women tend to seek roles where they can maintain a good work-life balance, it is vital for businesses and organisations looking to improve gender diversity in the workplace to be transparent about topics like benefits, flexible working and work-life balance.
Women are more selective when applying for jobs
When it comes to applying for jobs online, women are more selective than men. Research shows that women end up applying for 20 per cent of the opportunities they find online. To apply for a vacancy, women tend to feel they need to meet all of the criteria, while men usually apply when meeting 60 per cent.
In detail, data shows that women apply for 20 per cent fewer jobs than men. Since women are more likely to apply only when they feel fully qualified and experienced for the role, they experience a higher success rate at their interviews. However, this also indicates that women are less likely to pursue stretch opportunities.
Women hold fewer than a third of the UK’s most influential jobs
Women on average hold 31 per cent of positions across the eleven most influential sectors, including politics and business. Female workers hold only 1.3 per cent of the roles of the armed forces. Moreover, only one in every four members of Parliament are female.
Here is a list of proportions of women in various sectors:
- 1.3% of brigadiers across the Army, Navy and RAF.
- 12.2% of the most senior judges.
- 14.2% of university vice-chancellors.
- 16.6% of the most senior staff in the police.
- 34.7% of the senior civil service.
Secondary education is where women are most represented, making up 36.7 per cent of headteachers.
Women are more likely to be discriminated against than men
Research shows that women tend to face age-related unfavourable treatment more than men, as they are not offered the same mentoring and training opportunities as younger workers. Considerable discrimination occurs during recruitment when employers are unconsciously biased and offer fewer job opportunities to older women.
More inclusive recruitment procedures can help tackle discrimination against older women.
Older female workers are often age-discriminated against because of a lack of flexible working. As a result, older women do not feel they can apply for specific jobs.
Women negotiate for promotions and pay rises more than men
A Women in the Workplace report shows that female workers are more likely to ask their employers for career progression opportunities and pay rises. In 2019, 36 per cent of male workers negotiated for promotion compared to 37 per cent of women.
However, women are still less likely to get a positive outcome than men, especially early in their careers, according to new research from Cass Business School, the University of Warwick, and the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, the report indicates that black women experienced less career progression and pay rise than white women.
Women are less likely to hold senior positions in the workplace
A study from LinkedIn found that women’s jobs are more vulnerable than men’s, as the UK labour market data indicates. 69 per cent of female workers have agreed that pregnancy and maternity impact the way they progress in their career. This has created an entitlement gap which has further accentuated during the pandemic.
Moreover, 34 per cent of female workers agreed that the COVID-19 outbreak played a considerable role in their working patterns. 40 per cent of women had put on hold their career progression due to more responsibilities at home. This led women to apply for 4 per cent fewer jobs in 2020 in comparison to men.
Women are more likely to be sexual harassed in the workplace
According to studies and publications, 36 per cent of women working full-time in the corporate sector have experienced sexual harassment, including sexist jokes and attempts to initiate intimate relationships.
Here is some data related to proportions of specific groups of women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at least once in their career:
- 34% of women of colour
- 48% of women in technical positions
- 53% of lesbian women
- 59% of women in C-level positions
- 62% of bisexual women.
Additionally, 51 per cent of women with disabilities have also reported episodes of sexual harassment. Only 52 per cent of women believe that their company can effectively investigate and address complaints about this issue. Moreover, 30 per cent of female workers believe that complaining and reporting sexual harassment is uncertain and risky.