Exclusive: Bullying and discrimination are still serious issues for women at work, study of female Cambridge alumnae reveals
Survey shows around 38 per cent of around 1,000 former students of Murray Edwards college, felt gender inequality, discrimination, non-supportive and difficult colleagues and managers, bias, bullying and undervalued work were the most troubling obstacles in their careers
Margareta Pagano is a former business editor of the Independent on Sunday who now writes columns and business interviews for a range of publications, including the Independent, Independent on Sunday and London Evening Standard.
Thursday 06 March 2014
Bullying and discrimination have proved greater career challenges than work-life balance and childcare to graduates of an all-female Cambridge college, according to a unique new study.
Around 1,000 alumnae of Murray Edwards college, aged from their twenties to their seventies, were asked about the biggest problems they had faced in their lifetimes. The college’s most notable graduates since it was founded 60 years ago include scientist Lizzy Hawker, BBC’s Radio 4 presenter Mishal Husain, TV’s Claudia Winkleman and pianist Joanna Macgregor.
Of 824 separate obstacles cited by former students, 38 per cent of them said that gender inequality, discrimination, non-supportive and difficult colleagues and managers, bias, bullying and undervalued work were the most troubling. Most also said they felt they had to over-perform because they are female.
By contrast, less than a quarter of the Murray Edwards alumnae said that balancing work, family life and childcare – traditionally seen as the more difficult obstacle – was an issue.
The new survey, Women Today, Women Tomorrow, was carried out by Murray Edwards to discover how to help future generations.
Dame Barbara Stocking, herself a former alumna and Murray Edwards president, said: “This is a shocking result. If women say that they are not being treated on merit, then all the arguments against positive discrimination – or quotas in certain areas – fall away. Our survey confirms my belief that the only way to achieve a more equal balance in the workplace is by introducing quotas. Merit is clearly not enough.”
The former head of Oxfam added: “Sadly, our survey also showed that women rarely cited support from their employers as being a positive force.” Instead, the women surveyed said they tackled workplace challenges through their own drive, dedication and hard work as well as the support of partners, family, friends and mentors.
Perhaps surprisingly, more than half said they had managed to combine work and family comfortably. Graduates of most ages identified family life as the single-most important factor in their lives. Those aged between 30 and 49 found maintaining work-life balance most difficult.
Dame Barbara said: “As well as wanting to make a difference to society – which was top of the list of their ambitions – they want to have their voices heard; feel respected and valued in their role; and work with colleagues with whom they connect”
If they were to go back in time, most of the women said they would improve their careers with more leadership coaching, confidence building skills as well as more mentoring and networking. Nearly half said they would also have had more sleep while 72 per cent wanted more time for exercise.
To mark the college’s 60th anniversary this year, Dame Barbara is also hosting two seminars to help current students. “One of the problems that we, and many Cambridge colleges, face is the ‘imposter syndrome.’ This is common in both state and privately educated girls and we are determined to find ways of helping students feel more secure, whether it be through coaching or mentoring.”
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...