Let’s look at some stats about UK women in the workforce today with guest writer Polly Jones. What do the numbers mean?
On UK Women in the Workforce
Some big corporations recently came under fire for not enough commitment to women’s rights in the workplace. More emphasis is being placed on the gender pay gap and the perks that men often receive over women, prompting businesses to change their practices. However, many female rights campaigners are arguing that the progress is too slow and still too little. Here’s a look at the world of work in the UK today.
The UK’s Ageing Population
At present, the number of people aged 65 or over in the UK is more than it has ever been. However, this ageing population are not just enjoying a life of retirement. Many are still working way past retirement age, meaning that job roles are becoming more competitive than before.
In 2017, just over 18% of the UK’s population was age 65 or older. It’s predicted that once we reach 2046, that will rise to nearly 25%. This will undoubtedly increase the number of applicants applying for one job role, as the older generation hang onto theirs.
Education for Young Girls
It’s long been said that girls graduate tertiary education in higher percentages than boys. Why then, do they often find themselves in lower paying positions? Reports show that women earn just 77% of what men will earn in the exact same job role and field. This is mind-blowing considering the women are just as qualified for the role as men.
While it is encouraging to learn that girls are continuing to opt to enter higher education, it also means that the conversation of gender pay gap is still relevant.
Making Their Way into the Working World
In today’s society, there are 70% of UK women aged 16-64 in employment, a drastic change from just 53% in 1971. So, what happened? Perhaps it’s because there is more pressure to work. Plus, new mothers often feel the expectation to return back to work as soon as their maternity leave ends.
There’s not the same desire to be a ‘domestic housewife’ or ‘homemaker’ as there may have been in the 70’s. In 2014, 74.1% of UK women with children were in employment, comparing to 75% with no children.
Rights of UK Women in the Workforce
Considering women are returning to work immediately after maternity leave, it’s not out of the question to assume this must be a significantly long period of time. However, in the UK, Statutory Maternity Leave is just a year long. Interestingly, paternity leave is a mere 1-2 weeks of paid leave. This emphasises the slightly archaic views society may have about maternity and paternity leave.
Furthermore, of the women who do return to work, almost two thirds of them opt for flexible working arrangements to suit caring to their baby. In the same way that women can be discriminated against because they may have a baby in the future, any new parent who believes they’re not being treated fairly in the workplace can consult dispute resolution lawyers. They will be able to advise whether they’ve got a case. All UK employees have the right to ask for flexible working hours after 26 weeks of employment, no matter whether they have children or not.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling and Becoming a Leader
In order to break the glass ceiling, you must first acknowledge that it’s there. The main tell-tale signs that typically exist in the workforce are:
- Little diversity among the top-level managers
- Sexist, racist or other prejudice language being common across the organisation
- Resistance to change and innovation
- Pay gaps between male and female employees
Research over the past three decades supports the relationship between women’s representation in leadership positions and positive outcomes in organizations. Having female representation on boards of directors is positively related to a firms financial performance. Female CEOs have a direct association with ethical decision making, as per this interesting read from Forbes.
What About Leadership Roles?
We’re used to seeing a boardroom full of men in many of the world’s biggest companies, but this is improving. In the FTSE 250, there are only 8 all-made boards as women’s board representation has risen to 11% to 28% in the past decade. Although this is a cause for celebration, there is still a low percentage of women in leadership roles, at just 22% in 2018.
Such figures are set to rise, though, as more women fight back into positions of power within male-dominated companies. The government, businesses and society all have important roles to play in ensuring gender inequality is a thing of the past.
About Today’s Writer
Poppy Jones is a freelance writer for many different business and tech publications. With a range of knowledge in the business and tech sector, she is an avid researcher and writer in the field. When she’s not writing, you can find her taking long walks with her two dogs and watching Game of Thrones.
Your Thoughts on UK Women in the Workforce
Are any of these stats on UK women in the workforce different than what you expected? Why or why not?