Women worried family will stall career

8 March

  • 66% of women surveyed are actively seeking career advancement opportunities;
  • 45% are nervous about the impact starting a family might have on their career;
  • 42% of new mothers felt overlooked for advancement opportunities upon their return to work; 
  • 38% say taking advantage of work/life balance flexibility programs has negative consequences at their organisation.

Almost half of the professional Australian women responding to a new PwC survey are nervous about the impact starting a family might have on their career and 42 percent of new mothers felt overlooked for promotions and special projects upon their return to work.

To mark International Women’s Day, PwC surveyed over 3,600 professional women aged 28-40 around the world, including 247 professional women in Australia at manager level or above, to find out what has to change for women at work to support their career development and aspirations.

The majority of Australian women surveyed say having flexibility to balance the demands of their career and personal/family life is important to them, however, nearly half (42 percent) believe people who work flexibly (e.g. reduced hours or job sharing) are regarded as less committed in their organisation.

More than a third say work/life balance flexibility programs and policies exist in their organisation but are not readily available to them in practice, and also believe their organisation does not value flexible working as a way of working effectively. Additionally, 38 percent say taking advantage of work/life balance flexibility programs has negative consequences at their organisation.

PwC Australia Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Julie McKay said: “There is still a perception in Australia that taking up flexible work options will be seen as career limiting. Despite more awareness about flexible work leading to significant productivity gains, we have not shifted work culture to enable the benefits to be realised.”

The Australian results also reveal 41 percent of Australian respondents have dealt with inappropriate language, insults and bullying at work. Further, 31 percent have been the recipient of sexual innuendos or sexual harassment, with 17 percent saying this has occurred more than once.

“The findings of our survey around sexual innuendo and harassment experienced by women at work adds to a growing body of data that shows we’ve got a long way to go before all women feel respected, safe and empowered to fulfil their career potential,” Ms McKay added.

“Employers need to have a clear set of values and a code of conduct and policies in place that outline the behaviours expected of their people. These expectations should be reinforced via internal channels and training programs on a regular basis.”

PwC has released a new report Time to talk: What has to change for women at work that details three important areas of focus for business leaders to help them advance gender equality and women’s career progression within their organisations. These include a focus on:

  • trust and transparency so women know where they stand and can make their own case successfully;
  • strategic support through dedicated, accountable sponsors and role models; and; 
  • rethinking their approach to helping their people balance work, life, parenthood and family caring.

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Rachel Mulholland
Corporate Affairs Senior Manager, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 2 8266 3175
Mobile: +61 467 654 011
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