Jonathan Prynn, London Evening Standard, 25th September 2013
Evidence revealed in official figures today shows women “disappear” from top jobs once they start having children
The starkest evidence yet of how women “disappear” from top jobs once they start having children was revealed in official figures today.
Women hold down almost half of the best rewarded roles in their twenties, but the ratio turns dramatically against them in their thirties and forties, according to Government data.
By the time careers are peaking, as workers reach their late forties and early fifties, women occupy only a quarter of the highest paid 10 per cent of posts.
The figures suggest that women are still struggling to break the “glass ceiling” after they reach the age when many start a family.
Kate Grussing, founder and managing director of headhunters Sapphire Partners, which specialises in recruiting women to high-powered jobs, said she was “disappointed but not surprised” by the figures.
She blamed a range of factors for the disparity, including women’s preference for softer but “less commercial” roles, such as human resources or communications, that do not pay as well, career breaks after children are born, which interrupt career progression, and a less intense focus on pay among female workers.
She said: “Pay is just not as important a driver for women and they are not as comfortable talking about it.”
Researchers at the Office for National Statistics looked at the top 10 per cent of earners in age bands from 16 upwards.
Among workers in their late twenties, the split was just 53-47 in favour of men. But in the early thirties age group it had already shifted dramatically in favour of men, with a 62-38 split.
In the late thirties, when many professional women are juggling the demands of work and childcare, the divide had widened further to 68-32.
In the early forties, when many high flyers would expect to be promoted to boardroom-level jobs, the split is 72-28 and in the late forties it is 74-26.
Carol Leonard, head of the Board Practice at headhunters The Inzito Partnership, said expensive childcare was a factor, and called on the Government to “make it more affordable”.