From Guest Author Abi Clapham about Edenred.
In the past, men went out to work while women stayed at home with the children. We’ve come a long way since then, with more women than ever currently taking the role of CEO, MP and business owner – so let’s take a closer look at the remarkable ways women’s roles in the workplace have evolved.
It began with the war.
During the war, we women were given the opportunity to prove just how capable we were at taking on the same job roles as men – with many of our ancestors filling in for their fathers, husbands and sons, be it in factories, mines, offices or the emergency services. Times were tough, but with all of the men fighting in the war, there was little choice in the matter – and women successfully showed that they were more than proficient in the workplace.
Fast forward a few decades and you’ll now see many women in top roles in organisations – be it in parliament or in the boardroom. Of course, there is still some way to go before we see an equal representation of men and women in boardrooms.
The biggest presiding reason for the lack of women in the highest paid roles comes down to children. More often than not, women choose to put their careers on hold in order to start a family.
Of course, the recent rise in women gaining the top jobs may be due to the large numbers who are making the decision to have a career first and then children. Just last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that the average age for a woman to give birth was almost 30 – the highest age on record. It said this was due to “increased participation in higher education, increased female participation in the labour force, the increasing important of a career” – so there you have it.
There remain some board directors who feel that the top roles in an organisation should still be held by men, with Sir Alan Sugar famously admitting his reluctance to employ a woman who may one day become pregnant.
What can be done to change this?
Recent legislation states that firms need to more than double the number of women on their boards by 2015 (or face Government measures). Despite this, some women argue that this is not the way forward, with many seeing it as a case for positive discrimination.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. As mentioned above, many women nowadays are choosing to enjoy a successful career before settling down to have children. This means that women will have more of an opportunity to reach the higher roles in a company – and if they choose to return to work afterwards, this will arm them with better prospects.
In addition, there are now a greater number of women than men choosing to attend university, and with women a third more likely to graduate with a degree than men, it seems that they will leave with more qualifications – elevating their chances of success over male counterparts in job interviews. The more women there are in a company, the higher still the chance that some of them will reach the top roles.
In the not too distant future, these facts should hopefully lead to an even balance of men and women in the boardroom. It is important to remember along the way however, that men and women are still very different. Yes, women can do the same jobs as men – and vice versa. What should be the focus of boardroom representatives are the various approaches and views which can be brought by both genders – men and women working alongside each other at the top of companies will really show what we’re all made of.
But until we get there, let’s not forget the enormity of the changes that have so far taken place with regards to women’s roles in the workplace – and it’s likely that these changes are only going to continue.
Abi has a wealth of blogging experience across a range of subjects, from education through to employment. She currently writes content for employee incentive company Edenred. In her spare time Abi enjoys writing, cooking and wedding planning.
Got you thinking?
If this article has got you thinking and you are interested in challenging the status quo, working towards better gender balance for better business, you may wish to attend The Women’s Business Forum 2014, 6th & 7th October 2014, Sofitel, Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport.