Government papers: Women’s progress in the workplace


In 2018 the government commissioned a series of academic evidence reviews on family friendly policies and women’s progression as part of the Workplace and Gender Equality Research Programme.

Key findings:

  • mothers are more likely to withdraw from full-time employment compared to fathers after having children and for those who do return to work, their career progression often gets stuck with a lower chance of getting a promotion
  • women’s progression in the workplace continues to be held back by barriers such as bias around pay and promotion, difficult workplace cultures (ie sexual harassment), tensions between balancing work with care and a shortage of quality part-time work with a good wage potential
  • introducing transparent and formal processes on pay and progression, destigmatising part-time and flexible work and better training for managers to support alternative working patterns are some of the actions employers could take to support progression in the workplace
  • employers as well as employees can benefit from introducing family friendly policies and practices with advantages such as better productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention and higher staff satisfaction.

The government has published three pieces of research to understand the barriers to progression faced by women in the workplace and what employer scan do to overcome them.

  1. Employment pathways and occupational change after childbirth
  2. Women’s progression in the workplace
  3. Family friendly working policies and practices: Motivations, influences and impacts for employers