Women break glass ceiling but office discrimination continues

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The Independent Online

The number of women securing jobs as senior managers and directors has risen sharply in the past decade, according to research released today.

The number of women securing jobs as senior managers and directors has risen sharply in the past decade, according to research released today.

Many women executives are now the main breadwinner at home, the report for the Institute of Management said. But while the "old boy's network" is in decline, nearly half of all women still encounter serious discrimination at work. Women now hold 25 per cent of all management jobs, compared with only 9 per cent at the start of the 1990s. Women fill 10 per cent of boardroom posts, which is five times more than a decade ago.

The rise of women means that 41 per cent of female executives living with a partner, now bring home the main salary, and a further 33 per cent are joint breadwinners.

But one-third of women believe their organisation pays female managers less than men and 47 per cent of women managers think their company discriminates against women in promoting staff.

Up to 35 per cent of women believe their career paths have been obstructed by an "old boy's network", although this has dropped from 42 per cent in 1992 and most women now think the hindrance is in decline.

That is partly thanks to the high-profile examples of successful women who have broken through the executive glass ceiling. Women such as Ffion Hague, whose six-figure salary as a headhunter at Leonard Hull International easily outstrips her husband's from the Tory back benches. Or Katherine Garrett-Cox, aged 33, who was recently promoted to chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management, where she oversees a £29bn portfolio.

Out of the survey of 1,509 women managers, some 26 per cent cited a female manager as an inspiration, compared with 16 per cent a decade ago, and more than half of women now aspire to a board-level position. Mary Chapman, director general of the institute, welcomed the unprecedented numbers of female executives. But she added: "Many women still perceive unacceptable levels of discrimination in pay and promotion.

"Organisations need to tackle these issues head on with transparent reward and promotion procedures, based on ability and achievement," she said.

While nine out of 10 women now work full time, they are still juggling a host of commitments. Nearly half of female managers have children and most women still take the main responsibility for running the home.

The problems of combining work and home mean that 27 per cent of the respondents said that family commitments posed a career barrier – a big rise from 17 per cent a decade ago.

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