Women in the Workplace Report

Opportunities for women in the workplace have improved drastically in the past 100 years – with over 70 million women in the diversity statistics in the us workforce, while the UK female unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1971.

However, women still face many issues, obstacles and cases of discrimination in the workplace – from over half of UK women having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace to women remaining vastly underrepresented in senior positions; in the USA there are more CEOs named John and David, than total female CEOs

If you are looking for facts and statistics about women in the workplace, our newly released Women in the Workplace Report covers everything from women’s rights in the workplace, to gender discrimination, female representation in leadership positions, and the key obstacles which cause continued inequality for women in the workforce.

Women in the Workplace Statistics

Much research has been conducted to examine the working experience for women around the world.

  • Iceland and Sweden were named the best countries for women to work in the PwC Women in Work Index
  • Scotland is ranked as the best UK region in the PwC Women in Work Index
  • The UK female full-time unemployment rate has been consistently under the OECD average by more than 10% since 2004
  • 69% women say they feel pressured by society to put family ahead of career
  • 72% women feel conflicted when balancing work and family life

  • Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce
  • Women around the world spend more than twice as many hours as men doing unpaid work – such as housework and childcare
  • Cutting women’s unpaid work from five hours a day to three would boost women’s participation in the workforce by around 20% 
  • 200,000 women with STEM qualifications are predicted to enter the workforce within the next two years75% of women said they felt that they had experienced “lack of confidence” that had held them back at some stage of their careers
  • 65% women say lack of confidence is the reason women are underrepresented in management roles
  • 61% women believe maternity leave and childcare disrupt women’s opportunities to progress into managerial roles
  • 45.7% of women worry about being perceived as bossy at work
  • 38.1% women worry about perceived as ‘bitchy’ at work

  • The UK unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1971
  • Only 35% 17 to 21-year-old young women believe women have an equal chance of career success as men, compared to 86% girls aged 7-10
  • Women aged 20 are 5x more likely be hired than women aged 55+
  • 54,000 UK women lose their job each year due to having a baby
  • Less than 20% women feel confident returning to work after maternity leave
  • 90% women returning to work after maternity leave receive no support

Gender Discrimination in the Workplace Statistics

Gender discrimination remains a key concern in workplaces around the world, with the global gender pay gap currently predicted to take 202 years to close if it progresses at the current pace.

Women also remain underrepresented in leadership positions and are less likely to be promoted to senior positions.

Gender Inequality in the Workplace

  • ¾ all UK companies pay their male staff more than their female staff on average
  • The gender pay gap in the UK across full and part-time workers is 18.4%
  • In the UK, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women experience the largest pay gap at 26.2%
  • At the current pace of progress, it would take around 40 years to close the UK pay gap
  • The global pay gap between men and women will take 202 years to close

  • Closing the gender gap in positions across the OECD could boost GDP by $2 trillion
  • Closing the gender pay gap in the UK would increase female earnings by £92 billion
  • 1/3 employees are unaware that paying men and women differently for the same work is illegal in the UK
  • 60% workers are not aware they can seek legal advice for unequal pay or gender discrimination
  • 27% of female employers said that “it’s harder for women to progress in my organisation than men”
  • In the USA, women make 49 cents for every $1 made by a man

Sexism in the Workplace

  • Approximately two in five female managers state there is sexism in their company
  • 6% of employers said that “men are better suited to management jobs than women”
  • Public sector employees have expressed more issues of sexism in their workplace than private and third sector employees
  • 71% women said “unconscious bias from management” is the cause for women being underrepresented in leadership positions
  • Over half of women experience workplace sexual harassment
  • 77% mothers had a negative or discriminatory experience at work during their pregnancy
  • 42% women say they have faced workplace discrimination because of their gender

  • 85% women and 80% men say they have witnessed discriminatory behaviour in the workplace

Women’s Rights in the Workplace

  • The UK Equality Act came into place in 1970, prohibiting unequal pay for women
  • The UK Equality Act was amended in 2010 to ensure equal pay for both genders and protect against other discrimination
  • Only 2% parents have utilised shared parental leave since it was introduced
  • In Iceland it is illegal to pay men more than women
  • The US does not provide any paid maternity leave, and is one of only eight countries in the world where this is the case
  • 113 countries have no equal pay laws in place
  • In 104 countries certain jobs are off-limits for women

  • 29 countries set limits on the number of hours which women are allowed to work
  • In 18 countries husbands can stop their wives from working

Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Women remain hugely underrepresented in certain industries and in leadership positions around the world. Increasing female participation would not only benefit working women, but businesses with women in leadership positions have also seen improved business performance.

  • 76% of organisations who value gender diversity say they are unsatisfied with their ability to elevate women in leadership
  • Women hold only 29% of FTSE 100 board positions
  • Almost 25% of companies in the FTSE 350 only have one woman on their board.
  • Women account for only 1 in 5 board seats in the largest publicly listed companies in the OECD
  • In the USA there are more CEOs named John or David, than female CEOs

  • Across the EU women account for 33% managerial positions on average
  • Only 18% Britain’s SMEs are led by a majority female senior team
  • 71% Chief Executives of the UK’s 100 largest charities are men
  • Hungary has the highest discrepancy between male and female board positions in Europe
  • Norway has the best representation of women in board positions in Europe
  • Women account for only 19.92% of senior leadership positions in the USA
  • 78% of companies prioritise diversity with the goal of improving culture, while 62% do so to improve financial performance
  • Research suggests that every 10% increase in gender diversity relates to a 3.5% increase in gross profit
  • 22% women say their manager provides guidance on improving gender diversity at work
  • Increasing female participation in the workplace could boost the GDP of the OECD by $6 trillion

Men vs Women in the Workplace

Research comparing men and women in the workplace typically suggests women display less confidence in the workplace and are more likely to go over and above at work. Yet women tend to account for more junior positions than men.

  • 60% of women say they always work hard, compared to 45% of men who say the same
  • 28% of women say they always deliver over and above to impress, compared to just 19% of men
  • 15% of women have attended a course or studied for a qualification to increase their credentials, compared to 9% of men
  • 53% of 18-30-year-old women worry about their abilities vs 43% men of the same age
  • 54% young women say they lack self-confidence compared to just 39% young men who feel the same
  • Scientific research claimed women are biologically prepped to perform better in stressful workplace situations than men, due to increased oxytocin and decreased testosterone in women
  • Women account for 69% junior level roles in the UK, compared to 31% men
  • For every 100 men promoted to managerial positions, only 79 women are
  • Women in the UK earn just 81p for every £1 men earn
  • The UK female unemployment rate is 3.7% compared to 3.9% for men
  • 30% of young women do not receive feedback after an interview compared to 18% young men
  • 73% women believe gender pay equality to be a major workplace concern compared to 53% men who feel the same
  • A higher number of UK women are in workplace pensions than men

Facts About Women in the Workplace

Women have been working for thousands of years, but changes to these roles and rights have occurred over the past 100 years. 71.2% women of working age in the UK are currently in employment. Women heavily dominate administrative and care positions, and also outnumber men in certain health professional roles, including pharmacists and radiographers. Education is one industry where women make up the majority of senior positions.

When Did Women Join the Workplace

  • Women have been working for thousands of years, though restricted to certain roles initially
  • During WWI (1914-1918) large numbers of women were recruited into the jobs vacated by men
  • WWII again called for women to take on roles vacated by men, with six million new women workers entering the US labour force
  • Women started working in longer-term, more skilled careers in the late 20th century
  • From 1890 to 1985 the participation of women aged 25-44 in the workplace increased from 15% to 71%

Women’s Equality in the Workplace

  • Women are more than twice as likely to take time off paid work to look after their children or their ageing parents, or both
  • Women who stay outside paid employment for four years are paid 65% less than women who continue working

Percentage of Women Who Work

  • 71.2% of 16 to 64-year-old women in the UK are in employment, compared to 52.7% of women in 1971

  • In 2015, 72% of ‘working age’ UK mothers were in paid work, compared to just 50% in 1975
  • The number of UK women in full-time employment has risen from 29%in 1985 to 44% in 2017

Which Industries Employ the Most Women

  • Women account for 93% of PA and secretarial jobs in the UK
  • Education is one industry where women make up the majority of senior roles, at 61%
  • Women hold 83% of HR administrative jobs in the UK
  • Women account for 67% physiotherapy jobs and 78% therapy jobs in the UK
  • Women make up 61% pharmacist roles and 68% radiographer roles in the UK
  • Women account for 81% cooking professions in the UK
  • Women make up 61% of UK contact centre roles and 77% travel agent roles
  • Women make up over half of fitness instructors in the UK
  • Women account for 64% of welfare professions in the UK

  • 42% of the science workforce is made up of women
  • Over 900,00 UK women work in STEM roles
  • There is no sector in the UK which pays women more than men
  • Women account for only 17% of the UK IT workforce
  • Women make up 17% start-up founders
  • Women only make up 28% Chief Exec roles in the UK
  • Women account for only 7% design and development engineer roles in the UK

History of Women in Workplace

  • Prior to WWI women’s jobs were largely focused on textile manufacture
  • During WWI the high demand for weapons made munitions the largest single employer of women in 1918
  • Women took on jobs regarded as male roles during WWI including railway guards, postal workers and police
  • Women earned less for doing the same jobs as men during the war, which sparked the first calls for equal pay
  • During WWI female employment rates increased from 6% of the working-age population in 1914 to between 37.7% and 46.7% in 1918

  • From 1972 to 1985 US women’s share of professional jobs increased from 44% to 49%
  • Between 1972-1985 US women’s share of management jobs nearly doubled rising from 20% to 36%

Women in the Workplace Today

  • Women account for 42% of the EU employed population
  • There are approximately 72 million women in the US workforce
  • Women make up 49.5% of the UK workforce
  • 860,000 UK women run their own business

  • Only one quarter of employed women are happy in their job
  • 75% self-employed women say they are in their dream job
  • 9% women say they have found their dream job working for someone else
  • 24% women in full-time employment dream of starting their own business
  • 28% women have a ‘side hustle’ alongside their day job
  • 74% part-time workers are women



































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