Participation of Women in the Workforce

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New research on barriers to career progression for women have found perceptions about work hours and work/life balance are significant issues.

More than 50 per cent of the 495 female respondents in the survey of the Young Professional Women Australia, cited work hours, i.e. either hours required or the hours they believe are required "to do a good job" as a barrier that is hindering their career progression and one in four said mental wellbeing/stress was a factor. While some 73 per cent of the respondents agreed that sacrifice was required for career progression.

Employees often assume they'll need to work crazy hours and make major sacrifices in higher-level roles. The question is, is it actually required in order to succeed? Employers need to be aware of this tendency and work to dispel myths that might be clogging their talent pipeline. Managers really need to be providing permission to their staff to be able to ask this question. Managers need to think of an answer to the question as to how do I work with my team to ensure a win-win situation and also to help the individual team members to step up. Managers can also encourage employees to discuss the role with people who have experienced it for themselves.  

Around 32 percent of the respondents felt that women are just a small number in a largely male dominated work environment. Some 31% felt that they do not have strong internal relationships and influencers for their career progression. Mentoring is a professional relationship where an experienced person helps another in developing specific skills and knowledge. It is also important for female employees to get a sponsor who would play more of an advocacy role within the organisation.

Another key finding from the research was that nearly 30 per cent of respondents agreed that they lacked clarity on their career goals. When an employee lacks clarity and confidence, then they would struggle to answer what they actually want from their career and what direction they would like to their career to progress in.