High Achieving Women – exploring progression, retention and performance

Research in a range of South Yorkshire councils and colleges identified a number of barriers that prevent women entering managerial positions.

Areas covered in the research included…

Do you work in a macho culture?
Are you taken seriously?
Do your male colleagues think you should be in the home?
Do part timers feel like second class employees?
Do long hours ‘go with the territory’?
Are carers sidelined for promotion?
Do you feel your family has to come second?

From this research, three main areas were highlighted. Long work culture, macho culture and lack of empathy for carers. Taking these themes we developed a series of scenarios:

  • Carer & Career: Mission Impossible
    The research suggested a stereotypical perception towards “working carers”.  Problems outlined included how maternity leave is managed, support for working carers on residential courses or conferences, limited promotion opportunities for those working reduced hours.
  • Organisational Culture: Mission Impartial
    The research identified a “macho culture” in many of the organisations. Some female managers and staff feel undervalued or excluded when it comes to making important decisions. They feel decisions are sometimes made in informal male-dominated situations. Some females felt they needed to be more assertive than men, in order to be taken seriously by male managers.
  • Work Structure: Mission Impractical
    The research showed there is a “long hours culture” for managers and they should be prepared to travel to meetings and conferences.  This is sometimes impractical for “working carers”. We presented a scenario to stimulate discussion and help with problem-solving.

Targeting mixed gender groups and involved personnel for a range of organisations who are striving to change, the events were designed to enable participants to openly discuss the barriers that they experienced with a view to addressing and overcoming them with the support of colleagues.

The University of Sheffield