Women still facing discrimination in the workplace

Women who choose to start a family continue to face discrimination at work, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 working mothers reveals more than half of those interviewed felt the attitudes of their bosses and colleagues changed once they became pregnant, and two thirds said that things have been ‘difficult’ for them since returning to work after maternity leave.

In fact, one in four said they had been made to feel that they are no longer needed at work while the same number reported being put under pressure to either leave their job or reduce their role.

Do we live in an age of equality?

The survey, carried out by the employment law firm Slater & Gordon, found that views we have long thought of as outdated, still exist in mainstream culture here in the UK.

“Despite the equality legislation in place, attitudes and working practices continue to block women in achieving their career aspirations in the UK. This report shows that there are still negative perceptions of women with children and this kind of attitude is short-sighted and bad for business.”

 

”Anecdotally, we hear of mothers complaining about being put on a ‘mummy track’ when back at work, and this research illustrates that this is a real experience for many women.”

 

Kiran Daurka – Employment Lawyer

One of the most common complaints of discrimination in the workplace by mothers was being overlooked for promotion. Nearly half felt having children halted their career progression, while a third of the mothers who were interviewed described climbing the career ladder as a working parents ‘impossible’. Three in ten felt their bosses saw being a mum as ‘inconvenient’, and the same number thought it had played a major part in them missing out on a promotion. One in five mothers surveyed said they felt less valued having returned to work.

“Too many attitudes still seem to be stuck in the past with women stereotyped as being the ones who will stay at home if their child is sick, or if there are problems with childcare. Bosses need to realise that times are changing and looking after the children isn’t the main responsibility of mothers any more; fathers are increasingly sharing the load.”

 

“Companies may also fear that mothers will not want to return full-time or be as committed to their job as they once were, but with the evolution of technology making it easier for businesses to be flexible, this really shouldn’t be an issue. It’s time employers started to take working mothers seriously; they can play an important role within any company and should celebrated, not sidelined. If businesses find a way to accommodate the needs of working parents, it can make for a happier and more productive workforce.”

The Equality Act was passed in 2010 to protect people from discrimination in the workplace as well as the wider society. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone who is pregnant or having a child.