Women still under glass ceiling, according to business survey

Only 5 per cent of women in Network Ireland study sought positions on boards

The “glass ceiling” still exists in the Irish workplace, according to almost 80 per cent of women surveyed by working women’s group Network Ireland.

More than 700 women were surveyed on their experiences in the workplace, ahead of International Women’s Day this Friday, by the non-profit organisation that supports the professional development of women.

Just over half of those surveyed said their gender had not impacted on their own career progression, but more than 79 per cent said the glass-ceiling effect, where women did not reach the same senior professional levels as men, did still exist in the workplace.

Of the 48 per cent of women who said their gender had impacted on their career, almost all said that impact was negative with just under 43 per cent of those surveyed reporting that achieving career progression had been more difficult for them than for their male peers.


‘No support’

One in 10 of working mothers said they had received “no support” from their employer through their maternity leave or their transition back to work. However more than 15 per cent said they received “fantastic support” and just over 21 per cent said they did get support but would have liked more.

In relation to support in the home, almost equal numbers of women said they did most of the running of the household as said they shared these tasks equally with their partners – both responses coming out at about 38 per cent. However, less than 4 per cent said their partner did most of the work running their household.

A little less than half of the women surveyed said they had not applied for a promotion, and half of those gave a lack of time due to family commitments as the reason for not seeking advancement. One in six said they didn’t feel they were good enough for the promotion, while just over 7 per cent said they feared failure.

Speak up

In relation to their confidence in the workplace, one-third said they would find it difficult to speak up in meetings or professional situations. Women were reluctant to ask for pay increases, with almost 40 per cent having never asked for a rise, or if they were business owners, never having increased their own pay. Just over one in six had done it once.

Only 5 per cent said they had ever applied to join a State board or a corporate or not-for-profit board, while more than a quarter said they would “love to” but didn’t know where to start.

Network Ireland president Helen Wycherley said she wanted to empower women to "step up" more in the workplace.

“This year will be all about empowering women to step up to the challenge, to be ready to seize opportunities as they arise, to be confident and go for that promotion, apply for that grant application, go on boards or take more risks and to say ‘I can’ not ‘I might’ or ‘maybe’.”

Network Ireland will host an International Women’s Day event at Thomond Park, Limerick, on Friday.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times