Rise in women CEOs but manufacturing sector remains a problem, survey suggests

Ibec highlights sectors where challenges ‘need to be tackled as a matter of priority’

At head of function level, the research found, the proportion of women at this level of seniority has increased in all sectors with the exception of the manufacturing, distribution and “materials” industries

At head of function level, the research found, the proportion of women at this level of seniority has increased in all sectors with the exception of the manufacturing, distribution and “materials” industries

 

Research from the employers’ lobby group, Ibec, suggests the proportion of woman chief executive doubled to 16 per cent between 2001 and 2018.

Ibec says its findings, derived from comparative studies of large and small businesses 17 years apart, are “broadly “similar” to 2019 research from the Central Statistics Office, which found that one in nine chief executives in larger businesses are women.

Ibec’s research consisted of a study of gender roles in management at 347 businesses in 2018, and a comparison of these findings with a study of 297 businesses that it carried out in 2001.

The employers’ group says its research shows “shows real progress in female participation rates in management” over this time. But it also highlights sectors, such as manufacturing and IT, where “there are some challenges which need to be tackled as a matter of priority”.

At head of function level, the research found, the proportion of women at this level of seniority has increased in all sectors with the exception of the manufacturing, distribution and “materials” industries.

The HR sector and customer service industry recorded the highest spikes in women at head of function level. At middle management level, however, the proportion of women at this level in the IT sector fell from 28 to 22 per cent.

“A significant pipeline of female talent exists in certain gendered occupations such as HR/personnel; finance/accounting and customer service, with the proportion of females at upper management levels rising significantly between 2001 and 2018,” said Kara McGann, Ibec’s head of social policy.

“However, while improved, female participation in manufacturing, distribution, IT and particularly engineering roles remains relatively low, possibly due to the underlying culture and norms often found within the industry.”