Tag Archives: gender equality

The true legacy of the Olympic Games is the new generation of female role models

12 Aug

Speak to any woman about the Olympic Games, and she’ll tell you she aspires to have a six-pack stomach like Jessica Ennis. Ask any little girl who she’d like to be when she grows up, and – when she’s finished cartwheeling and doing handstands – she’ll say she wants to win a medal like Beth Tweddle.

I can’t hear any child saying she aspires to put on pretend lashes, fake tan and pose half naked for a men’s magazine. The women who won the medals did so through determination, dedication and a desire to develop their talents as far as they will go – and then push them some more.

London 2012 has been a defining moment for female role models. (pic: istockphoto.com)

London 2012 is defined as being the moment when women came to the fore, gave their all, and walked away with armfuls of medals – becoming role models in the process. More than a third (36%) of Team GB medals in these Olympic Games have been won by women.

And, perhaps more importantly for role models for the future, Continue reading


Women aren’t getting a fair crack at leadership in SMEs

15 May

The glass ceiling remains well and truly intact within the Australian SME sector, with limited opportunities for women to have a crack at leadership.

So says a report from Australian businesswomen’s organisation Chief Executive Women (CEW) carried out in conjunction with Dun & Bradstreet. Its conclusion from surveying 1200 Australian CEOs was that 75% of SMEs had no women in their senior management teams – and had no intention of appointing any women, either.

More than 65% of SMEs were not requiring women to be on the shortlist for leadership roles – even though many major firms have committed to achieving 40% female representation at senior management level over the next year. Australia is lagging behind other countries in terms of gender equality, and there have been calls to improve targets.

Non-executive director and former CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, Christine Christian, said the survey results revealed the size of the challenge. “Just 22% of businesses have appointed, or intend to appoint, at least one woman to a senior management position. SMEs represent the largest employer by number in Australia, so it is critical that we support them to improve the levels of gender diversity in senior management and the productivity benefits that flow from that,” she said.

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.”

Two-thirds of female lawyers say gender holds them back

27 Feb

The proportion of female partners in top European law firms is tiny. (pic credit: istockphoto.com/liveostockimages)

The UK may have the most female partners in Magic Circle law firms across Europe, but progress up the ranks is slow and hampered by gender, according to a survey from international legal recruiter Laurence Simons.

Its research showed that the proportion of female partners was 16% – a tiny percentage – equal with Holland, but far too low when you consider that in China women make up 28% of the senior levels of major law firms. Spain has the smallest percentage of female partners (6.3%), Germany has 9.6%, and France has 13%.

Commenting on the findings that two-thirds of female lawyers believe being a woman holds them back in their legal careers, Lucinda Moule, managing director of Laurence Simons, said  “It’s certainly good news that the UK is leading the way in ensuring gender diversity at the highest level, but ultimately these results demonstrate the desperate need for top-tier firms to make better provision for the promotion of women.

“The fact that European nations are so far behind emerging economies such as China – where 28% of partners are women, despite the population comprising 119 men for every 100 women – demonstrates antiquated promotion practices are entrenched in the developed economies of Europe.”

Women’s ‘woeful’ representation in top jobs is blamed on ‘maternity penalty’

21 Feb

Women account for less than one in three senior roles. (pic credit: istockphoto.com/sturti)

Women account for less than a third of senior management positions in Europe – and are penalised for putting childcare duties above work responsibilities, according to research from Mercer.

The report Women in Business – Analysis of Gender Representation in Executive/Management Roles Across Europe – says that the ratio of women: men in senior roles across Europe is 29:71. The UK averages 28%.

It says that corporate often forces women to choose between putting work first at all costs, or “deselecting” themselves from the culture that cannot accommodate work-life balance.

Sophie Black, principal in Mercer’s Executive Remuneration team, elaborates on this point: “For a gender comprising over half the global population, women’s representation in senior corporate roles is woeful. The cause is complicated. It’s cultural, social, in some cases it is intentional discrimination but it can also be unconscious – the desire to recruit people like you. This unconscious bias is hard to eradicate. The end result of all these issues is Continue reading

Multitasking is stressful for working mothers

2 Dec

Working mothers multitask for 40% of their waking hours. (pic credit: istockphoto.com/CareyHope)

I do love it when a study  proves what we already know – that working women are brilliant multitaskers, and do much more multitasking than men – but new research shows just how stress working mothers are as a result of all this juggling.

Working mothers in the US multitask in the home for more than 40% of the time they’re awake: they do 48.3 hours compared to 38.9 hours for men, which the Offer-Schneider study says contributes to gender inequality because women are carrying the burden of housework, childcare, as well as bringing in an income.

The research shows that women engage in tasks that are more onerous: 52.7% of multitasking for working women involved housework, compared with 42.2% of fathers (though I think this number is rather high). And 35.5% of multitasking for women at home involved childcare, compared with 27.9% for fathers.

However, the significant point in this research is that multitasking at home and in public is a more negative experience for working mothers “because mothers’ activities are more susceptible to outside scrutiny”.

Study co-author Barbara Schneider, the John A. Hannah Chair and University Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Department of Sociology at Michigan State University, said: “Mothers’ activities in  are highly visible to other people. Therefore, their ability to fulfill their role as good mothers can be easily judged and criticised when they multitask in these contexts, making it a more stressful and negative experience for them than for fathers, who face less normative pressures and are under less scrutiny when they perform and multitask at home and in public.”

She recommends that fathers “step up” and do a bigger share of housework and childcare. And she recommends that policymakers and employers should create more opportunities for fathers to be involved with their families, such as allowing time off for family/school events, and not bringing work home with them – so that there can be “more egalitarian norms” for parenting roles.

However, the conclusion is that trying to do it all – to be superwoman – just isn’t making working mothers happy.

Women take more career risks when backed by women

29 Nov

For those who believe that women are more risk averse than men, then new research from the Australian National University suggests otherwise: it found that women do make riskier choices when surrounded and supported by women.

Professor Alison Booth, who tested students’ attitudes to risk-taking in all-male, all-female and co-educational environments, found that women were less likely to make risky choices than men – which she concluded was down to culture and belief systems that inhibit women from taking risks. However, after eight weeks in a single-sex environment, women behaved in a similar way to men, and were more likely to take risks. Male behaviour was not affected by the make-up of the group.

Professor Booth said that the findings had implications for gender equality in the workplace. “Recent studies in experimental economics have shown that, on average, women are more risk averse than men. If much of the remuneration in high‐paying jobs consists of bonuses linked to a company’s performance, relatively fewer women will choose high‐paying jobs because of the uncertainty. This is why these findings are important. They show that risk-taking behaviour is not necessarily innate – it can be affected by the environment in which the individual is placed. Given that risk attitudes can be shaped by the environment, changing the educational or training context could help address under-representation of women in certain areas.”

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