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Feminism has failed working women, says IPPR report

1 Apr

The average woman is still earning less than men and doing more housework than her partner: evidence that decades of feminism have let women down. That’s according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in The Guardian.

The study says there has been too much focus on getting gender parity in the top roles rather than helping working-class women manage their lives and progress their careers. The focus on breaking the glass ceiling is a ‘decoy effect’, The Guardian reports.

The IPPR t says that there is still not a family-friendly culture in most workplaces, childcare is not accessible or affordable enough, and more part-time roles need to be made available.

The majority of women (77%) say they do more housework than their husbands. Just one in ten (10%) married men do an equal amount of housework, and 13% say they do more than their wives.

Dalia Ben-Galim, associate director of the IPPR, says: “While feminism has delivered for some professional women, other women have been left behind. Many of the advances for women at the top have masked inequality at the bottom.”

Flirty women in the workplace are liked but not trusted

11 Aug

Flirting in the workplace can help women get ahead, but they’re not liked or trusted by their colleagues. Non-flirty women are seen as more authentic, which means that being flirtatious won’t benefit women’s careers in the long term, according to research from the University of California – Berkeley.

Flirtatious behaviour in the workplace won’t help women’s careers long term. (pic: istockphoto.com/boytsov)

The research involved looking at videos of corporate negotiators, one of whom was a woman who kept flicking her hair and batting her eyelashes. The flirty women were liked but not trusted. However, flirting can be seen to be positive if used in a playful rather than overtly sexual way – and if used to ‘soften’ tough negotiations.

Professor Laura Kray, of University California-Berkeley, said: “We discovered both an upside and a downside to flirting at the bargaining table. Although flirtation appears to be positively related to women’s likability, negotiators who flirted were judged to be less authentic than those who refrained from exercising their sexual power.’

So, by all means use your feminine charm and read the audience so you know whether to dial up or dial down the charm offensive – but don’t overdo it. Other women in don’t like it – see Lucy Mangan’s column in Stylist, Flirting in the workplace won’t work long term – and it’s unlikely to get you very far.

Number of women in senior technology roles plummets

16 May

The IT sector is losing women from its senior ranks, in spite of the innovation and creativity the female touch is said to bring to technology.

More than half (56%) of US chief information officers (CIOs) in the Harvey Nash/Telecity Group 2012 CIO survey said they were suffering a talent shortage, and 90% were concerned about retaining staff.

When it comes to the lack of female talent, the figures tell the story: just 9% of CIOs are women, down from 11% last year and 12% in 2010. Almost a third of CIOs say they have no women in management within their IT organisations – in spite of the fact that comments in the survey say that “the most important value women add to the IT function is their ability to form good relationships with the business, and almost half say that women bring innovation and creativity to technology”.

“Fewer women are attracted into that space, so you end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Anna Frazzetto, senior vice president of international technology solutions at Harvey Nash USA, quoted in a Reuters article. “It’s not a very welcoming arena to be in.”

This article on LifeInc Where are all the powerful female nerds? analyses some of the factors behind why women aren’t attracted to a career in IT – and why they don’t stay.

Opportunity Now Awards 2012 celebrate competitive advantage of gender equality

19 Apr

The key message from the Opportunity Awards 2012 was that gender equality is not about ‘tokenism’ but about hiring and nurturing the best talent to promote competitive advantage.

The Awards by Opportunity Now – – the gender quality campaign by Business in the Community – were set up “to recognise private and public sector organisations that have put gender issues at the core of their business agendas and are committed to creating inclusive workplaces for women at all levels”.

The winners this year included:

  • BT for the Transparency Award, for being one of the first to publish its gender metrics.
  • Dell for Agile Organisation, for its ‘Connected Workplace’, allowing 65% of employees to work remotely.
  • Diageo for the Female FTSE Award, because it has 44.4% female board representation.
  • Credit Suisse, for Advancing Women in the Workplace Award for its Mentoring Advisory Group initiative.

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club, won the Champion Award.

Opportunity Now chair Alison Platt, CMG, divisional managing director, Europe and North America for Bupa, said: “This agenda is about utilising the best talent to gain competitive advantage; it is not about tokenism. For more than two decades, Opportunity Now has been working with leading businesses that recognise the tangible benefits of a diverse and fully engaged workforce. These employers understand that creating workplaces that work for women is a commercial imperative, not a women’s issue. All the Opportunity Now Awards winners should be commended for the innovative and impactful way they are embedding diversity and equality into their long-term business strategy.”

On International Women’s Day 2012, are women finally conceding to boardroom quotas?

8 Mar

When Cherie Blair writes in favour of quotas, you can be pretty sure that a woman who’s made it in a man’s world knows what she’s talking about. I doubt very much she would be supporting a move to oblige boards to have a set percentage of their members to be female if she wasn’t convinced of the business case for doing so.

Her opinion piece in the Evening Standard, Women in Boardrooms Make for Better Businesses, looks at the EU’s plans to introduce tough quotas to put women in the boardroom. Justice commissioner Viviane Reding says that women’s patience has run out, and firmer measures need to be introduced to ensure gender balance at the top of the nation’s big businesses.

I agree there is a risk that quotas would produce trophy directors and that they would patronise women – even Lord Davies has said quotas would be a mistake.

However, what options are left? With plenty of evidence to show that diverse boards make for better business, how will companies achieve gender balance without being forced to?

For me, Cherie sums up the dilemma in her column: “The row over EU plans to force companies to appoint more women as directors also shows there is no perfect solution. I, like Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, am a reluctant convert to quotas. In principle, I want to see people promoted on merit. I share concerns about tokenism and the backlash it can provoke. ut we also have to accept that while we are seeing progress in addressing the lack of women at the top, it is painfully slow.”

I’ll be watching the unfolding of the quotas debate with much interest.

Working mothers believe they’re more creative and better role models for their kids

29 Feb

The majority of working mothers (78%) enjoy their careers, and half believe they’re setting a good example for their children, according to a study of US working mothers by care.com.

While they receive support from spouses and family, many (73%) feel there is a lack of childcare benefits from their employers. However, the report doesn’t seem to support the general belief that working mothers just do their hours, pack up and go home. Six in 10 have ambitions to move up in their organisations, and eight in 10 don’t feel they’ve been overlooked for promotion because of a perceived lack of commitment.

In fact, four out of ten working mothers feel that working makes them more creative as a parent; 32% feel they’re more motivated, and 29% feel more productive.

However, this ambition is not matched by childcare provision at work. According to the survey, 39% of mothers had to miss work because of childcare issues.

There’s clearly a disconnect there that’s begging to be resolved.

Gender equality is ‘smart economics’, says World Bank

19 Sep

The gender gap is hampering economic growth, and even though women have made progress through education, there are still not enough opportunities in the workplace, according to the World Bank.

Closing that gap and making moves towards gender equality is not just a goal in itself, but because it is’smart economics’, it says in its World Development Report (WDR) 2012: Gender Equality and Development.

While girls are making progress in education in developed countries, but countries need to include the gender gap perspective in their development policies because it makes good economic sense to tap into the skills and expertise of women.

WDR 2012 recommends four things: reducing the mortality of girls and gender gaps in education; closing earning and productivity gaps; giving women a greater voice within households and societies; limiting gender equality across generations.

“Blocking women and girls from getting the skills and earnings to succeed in a globalised world is not only wrong, but also economically harmful,” said Justin Yifu Lin, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President, Development Economics. “Sharing the fruits of growth and globalization equally between men and women is essential to meeting key development goals.”

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