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Blog: Chipping Away at IT's Glass Ceiling

Maggie Berry|Managing Director at womenintechnology.co.uk
Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011 | 7:15 AM ET

With the arrival of International Women's Day, topics such as gender diversity, equality, discrimination, and quotas are never far from the news.

Laurence Dutton | The Image Bank | Getty Images

New research from Accenturegives an insight into the views of men and women when it comes to their careers. And we in fact share similar perspectives.

So, in light of these statistics, is there really a glass ceiling? We’ve got more legislation in place to protect women in the workplace than ever before. And there are constant calls for greater diversity and boosting the number women in the boardroom.

Is there anything else we can do? Well, yes.

The fact remains that there are still many industries and sectors that are dominated by men, for example IT, where just 19 percent of the workforce is female.

And there are even fewer women when it comes to the top boardroom positions. Then there is the issue of maternity and paternity leave, although legislation is changing, the current provision is one of the most unequal in Europe. The "motherhood penalty" is no doubt a contributing factor to the small number of women reaching senior positions. We also have to wonder how many employers share Lord Alan Sugar’s view that women should reveal their plans to have a family at an interview.

But in addition, women often need to have more confidence in their own ability to climb the career ladder.

When it comes to evidence of men advancing further than women, and at a faster pace, the research found that men are more likely than women to ask for a promotion. Women also feel that their careers are not fast tracked, 63 percent, compared to just over half of the men surveyed.

Changes to parental leave will hopefully begin to make a positive difference to the number of women achieving in the workplace. Not only will men and women be able to share childcare responsibilities, this also gives employers an opportunity to offer more flexible working options to both men and women.

More education in schools about career opportunities for women and advice on the world of work would also be beneficial. Less than a third of women have a mentor. Making sure that more women have someone they can talk to for career guidance is crucial as well.

When it comes to the glass ceiling, we’re slowly chipping away at getting rid of it. Women have made great progress in the workplace and there are many female role models in the business world, but we still need more.

As they say, there is always room for improvement. Take International Women’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, but to also think about what we can do to improve gender diversity and to improve career prospects for the next generation.

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The author is Maggie Berry, Managing Director at womenintechnology.co.uk

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