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Walking on Glass: Working Women and the Glass Ceiling

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Womenlookingataclock-COPYRIGHTAlanCleaverMaking Yourself: Education

The percentage of women occupying senior management positions in the business world has stagnated at 24% since 2007, a figure which stands in direct contrast to the increasing number of girls and young women graduating from secondary and higher education institutions who are willing and able to pursue demanding business careers. This statistical disparity has prompted many researchers to delve deeper into the roadblocks on the path to higher level positions in business for women in the UK.

Many women in business today are all too familiar with the concept of a glass ceiling. Women have long struggled to achieve equality in the workplace and find their footing in a largely male-dominated business world. The issues relating to women in business prompt all varieties of passionate debate ranging from topics of maternity leave to equal pay. For many women pursuing a career in Scotland, the opportunities for jobs in Scotland, England and Wales don’t necessarily reflect the significant influence and business acumen that women can bring to high level positions in business.

Research shows there are major opportunities for women in previously male-dominated creative sectors throughout the UK, as they offer flexible schedules and a departure from the rigid infrastructure of other business models.

Powers of Persuasion: Influence

The stagnant statistics regarding women holding influential positions in business seem counter-intuitive to the market research that suggests women influence consumer markets significantly. Strategically, business models of the future should incorporate women at every stage of production from design and engineering to marketing and sales to reach as wide an audience as possible with more dynamic offerings. Research shows there are major opportunities for women in previously male-dominated creative sectors throughout the UK, as they offer flexible schedules and a departure from the rigid infrastructure of other business models.

From On High: the Scottish Labour Market

Women in Scotland make up 51% of the labour market in the country and contribute significantly to the economy. However, their positions in the working world are largely low-paid jobs relegated to gender-stereotyped occupations. The gender pay gap in Scotland has long held at 12.2% for full-time workers and 32% for part time workers despite nearly 40 years of legislation dictating equal pay for women.

One for You, One for Me: Quotas

Case studies like Scotland present an interesting situation for female professionals and legislators alike and recent conferences on gender equality have struggled to assess whether quotas are a beneficial tool in the business world. Ultimately many women consider them essential as businesses and governments are incredibly slow to promote equality. The case for quotas extends into other realms as well as into business, including the public sector and politics, and are designed to enable more women in the workforce to occupy influential and higher level roles. Germany and Norway have both successfully implemented gender quotas in the workplace and now stipulate 30% of top posts are to be filled by women. Quotas in these countries have been extremely well received.

Going Away: Maternity Leave

One of the most hotly debated issues for working women is maternity leave. When women leave the workforce, even for a short time, their wages rarely recover to what they’d have been if they hadn’t taken time off. Rarely do women restore a professional trajectory that had previously been realistic before maternity leave. Many women re-enter the workforce in part-time positions but are for all intents and purposes demoted and end up working at least one level below their skill set. Professional productivity levels have suffered in the UK: many young women leave the workforce permanently, frustrated with the attitudes and conditions for working mothers.

Modern women are educated, ambitious and dynamic forces in the professional world yet their low population in high level business positions reflects a somewhat archaic view toward females in the workplace. While men and women alike may balk at the possibility of quotas, they’ve proven successful in progressive, economically robust nations. They could just be the catalyst the UK needs to fully realise its feminine potential.

Image by Alan Cleaver, used under Creative Commons license.

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