Women 'under-used' in the workplace


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Women's talents continue to be under-used in the workplace because of discrimination, caring responsibilities and lack of self-confidence, which is damaging the UK economy, according to a new study.

Too many well-qualified women will continue to be under-promoted and underpaid unless more men are prepared to work part-time and accept sideways career moves, said Dr Tom Schuller, a visiting professor at London University's Institute of Education.

He said a number of barriers were holding back women, including insufficient contact with managers, having to look after children or parents, or discrimination.

Dr Schuller, a former head of education research at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said there was a need for more affordable childcare, career mentoring for women as well as stronger measures to tackle discrimination.

"Men's career patterns will need to change too. Too much of the emphasis on gender equality at work involves helping women to work more like men. It is time to enable more men to work in ways that are currently the preserve of women," he said.

Men needed to consider working part-time and chose jobs which did not go beyond their levels of competence, which would make many of them happier, said Dr Schuller.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: "It is simply bad business sense to overlook women's skills in the workplace. The key to ensuring we can continue the economic recovery is ensuring everyone can contribute fully at work, and that means ensuring the workplace is modernised to enable that.

"The Government is playing its part by introducing flexible working and shared parental leave, and providing a new tax break for childcare costs for working families, but we cannot act alone.

"This is also about creating a cultural shift and we need employers to commit to putting the right measures in place to nurture talent, create more inclusive workplaces, and drive greater transparency."

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