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Gender gap myths debunked, but glass ceiling isn't one

A study that set out to debunk myths about women in the workplace has confirmed a long-term reality: there is a glass ceiling.

Glass ceiling

It found that a man starting a career in a FTSE 100 company is 4.5 times more likely to make it to the boardroom than a female counterpart.

Senior women waiting for the nod to sit at the top table are two times less likely to be promoted and four times less likely to leave than their male peers.

The research was commissioned by the 30% Club, which is campaigning for women to fill 30 per cent of FTSE 100 boardroom seats by 2015. The figure is currently at 20.4 per cent.

Myths about women in the workplace

The report busted ten related myths about women in the workplace.

For example, the research undid the myths that women lacked the desire, perseverance and confidence to get the top. It also found that leadership qualities weren't at issue, with behaviours shown by men and women being largely the same.

Neither do women who have made it to the board pull up the ladder behind them; they were found to seek out other women to join them.

Those who like to fall back on biological arguments are also disabused of their assumptions. While slowing their career progression, childrearing was not found to be significant in preventing women from getting to the top.

On the contrary, the largest gap turned out to be between childless women and childless men, who receive significantly more promotions.

Driving change

Flexible working was revealed to be crucial for women to balance life between work and home. Without it, the report said that many more women would leak from the talent pipeline.

The report concluded that it's not just up to women to drive change, but male role models too. The case for gender diversity is particularly strong when made by men who are drawing on personal experience.

Leaders need to show a personal interest in gender equality, and organisations need to be honest about whether gender diversity is a 'strategically critical corporate priority or not', it said.

Acas publications and services

Acas experts can visit your organisation and ensure equality is inherent in all your policies and procedures. See Equality and diversity: how Acas can help for details.

Practical training on Equality, diversity and the Equality Act, Recruitment, Skills for supervisors and Flexible working is also available.

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