A piece in today’s Sunday Telegraph:
Women are paid less and fail to progress in their careers because they have been “socially conditioned” to feel less entitled than men, according to a major new report. [J4MB: Of course women’s “failure to progress” can’t be related their lesser work-centredness compared with men – Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory, 2000.]
The study, published in the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8, has uncovered a deep-rooted “unentitled mindset” which is driving persistent inequalities in gender pay and female career progression.
Published by the educational charity, the Female Lead, Women at Work: Breaking Free of the Unentitled Mindset found that current workplace initiatives have limited effect because they are based in part on outdated presumptions about what women want.
Citing the perception that motherhood shifts a woman’s professional identity to the backseat, the report reveals that women suffer from “persistent bias” when returning from maternity leave and are “penalised” for trying to fit work around family life.
The research, led by Cambridge University psychologist Dr Terri Apter, also found that women adversely suffer from the ‘mental load’ of having to juggle work with the complex daily organisation of caring and household responsibilities.
Although the study began before the outbreak of Covid-19, the authors suggests the pandemic should act as a “catalyst for change”, with remote working having been “normalised” and the myth “busted” that people who work flexibility were less efficient, less committed and less likely to be leaders.
Dr Apter said: “A crucial aspect of the ‘unentitled mindset’ is that it is not just something that impacts women in their work. When we looked closer at the concept, we found it at the root of many troubles throughout women’s lives and a vital part of what keeps women in a less privileged position in society.
“If women expect less, then they will not complain about having less. Once you know about the ‘unentitled mindset’, you will see it everywhere – from ‘manspreading’ on the train, [J4MB: Men spread their legs when sat down not for reasons of comfort, but in response to women’s ‘unentitled mindset’. Got it.] to women’s unequal domestic load, [J4MB: No mention of women’s unequal paid employment load or unequal taxation load] and in the huge amount of unpaid female work globally. [J4MB: I’m ready for the padded cell now, doctor.]
“The ‘unentitled mindset’ is firmly part of our patriarchal structures [J4MB: What patriarchal structures are those?] and by calling this a ‘mindset’ we should not suggest that the problem lies entirely within women’s heads.”
Entrepreneur Edwina Dunn, who established The Female Lead in 2015 after co-founding worldwide loyalty programmes like Tesco’s Clubcard, added: “Confident, ambitious, and proud, the voices of the women who participated in our research nonetheless showed that they possessed an ‘unentitled mindset’. [J4MB: I think she’s saying the ambitious women aren’t ambitious. Something like that, anyway.] Disruption caused by Covid-19 means this is a pivotal moment where workplace practices are being completely overhauled.”
She has written to Liz Truss, the Women and Equalities minister, urging the government to rethink its temporary suspension of gender salary reporting due to the pandemic, saying: “When the economy is bad, women are always the first to be punished.” [J4MB: World to end, women affected most.]
The report examines the processes by which women make career-shaping decisions, focusing on why female mid-stage careers typically plateau, compared to male progression which continues to ascend.
Over 12 months, 70 in-depth interviews were conducted with women mid-stage in their careers, working across a range of industries in the public and private sector, including HR professionals. There have been no other recent qualitative studies that offer in-depth analysis of the challenges faced.
Recommendations to address the challenges highlighted were discussed by an Advisory Group comprising senior female executives working for Google, the FT and King’s College.
They suggested companies do more to promote flexible working and proactively invite pay discussion with female employees. [J4MB: How would that go? “Hello Gladys, would you like to be paid more?”]
Lucy Davis, who works in marketing for Google UK said: “The myth busting in this report is incredibly valuable and helps to focus on the real issues that need to be addressed. These issues are not for women to solve for ourselves – our ambition, capabilities, commitment are not in question [J4MB: they ARE in question – doh!] – but about dismantling some entrenched, limiting biases that still exist in the workplace and beyond.”
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