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Improving women’s progression in the workplace

Read the research

Read the summary briefing

The Global Institute for Women's Leadership was commissioned by the Government Equalities Office to review the evidence on the barriers that women face to progression in the workplace and what we know about how to overcome them.

The review summarises the evidence from 175 academic papers on gender and the workplace.

Key findings include:

  • It is widely established that women's career progression plateaus in their late 20s and early 30s. In addition, those who enter the job market in low-paid roles rarely progress compared with men.
  • A culture of overwork disadvantages female employees who have caring commitments, and women face stigma for being associated with part-time or flexible working.  
  • A shortage of quality part-time work is a key barrier to progression – any increase in the number of female part-timers appears to be the result of already senior women negotiating a reduction in hours.
  • Gender bias flourishes without clear and transparent systems on pay and promotion, with decisions reached via processes that disadvantage women, including networking and "social cloning", whereby bosses champion employees who are like them or part of their network.