Gender discrimination seen as biggest barrier to workplace promotion among women
Joanne O'Riordan with Cathriona Hallahan, MD of Microsoft Ireland, at an event in Microsoft offices in Dublin to mark International Women's Day. Photo by Maxwell Photography

Gender discrimination seen as biggest barrier to workplace promotion among women

4 Mar 2013

A study conducted by iReach on behalf of Microsoft Ireland examined both women’s and men’s participation and success in the workplace, highlighting the progress being made by working women and underlining the challenges that still exist.

The results of this study were launched today to coincide with Microsoft Ireland’s fifth annual ‘Fuel Your Success’ event at its Sandyford, Dublin, HQ. The event is held yearly to coincide with International Women’s Day (8 March) and speakers included senator and entrepreneur Mary Ann O’Brien and Young Person of the Year 2012 Joanne O’Riordan.

The survey of a nationally representative sample of Irish professionals, both male and female, found that the impact of family life on work is an issue for both sexes, with 32pc of those surveyed citing family commitments as their reason for not taking a promotion.

However, it was the female professionals that were more likely to feel that there are barriers to promotion in the workplace at 71pc to their male counterparts’ 52pc.

Cathriona Hallahan, Joanne O'Riordan and Mary Ann O'Brien at Microsoft Ireland's 'Fuel Your Success' event (Maxwell Photography)

(From left) Cathriona Hallahan, MD of Microsoft Ireland, with Cork teenager Joanne O’Riordan and senator Mary Ann O’Brien at today’s ‘Fuel Your Success’ event. Photo by Maxwell Photography

Research conducted by Microsoft in Ireland to mark International Women’s Day 2013 has identified gender discrimination, demands from home, and a lack of support for working mothers as the main perceived barriers to workplace promotion. The study, which examines women’s and men’s participation and success in the workplace, was officially launched by Microsoft at its annual event to celebrate a global day which is designated by the United Nations to recognise women’s contributions to the world’s economy.

Among women, the main perceived barriers are gender discrimination among management (29pc), demands from home (28pc) and lack of support for working mothers (27pc).

“The event we have organised here today is about acknowledging that obstacles and barriers can still exist for women in the workplace but rather than focusing on the problems, we want to highlight how these challenges can be overcome,” said Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland.

Different attitudes to workplace participation

In terms of participation in the workplace, 37pc female professionals would network with senior management compared to 47pc of males. However, both females and males were almost equally as likely to engage in professional development, at 77pc and 78pc respectively.

Stark differences between male and female attitudes were found among those who don’t take up professional development. Of these respondents, 33pc of women and 10pc of men said they don’t have the time; 27pc of women and 53pc of men said they were satisfied with their career as it was; and 15pc of women and 3pc of men said they were not interested in further career progression.

The survey also asked if professionals supported the idea of binding quotas for female participation on corporate boards. While 40pc of men and 48pc of women surveyed believed that such measures would have an impact, 39pc of women and just 17pc of men were in favour of their implementation.

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, Silicon Republic launches Women Invent Tomorrow, a year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Watch this space!

Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com. She joined in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs news. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly persnickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen. When she hasn’t got her nose stuck in her laptop, you’ll find her in the kitchen, at the cinema, or on the dancefloor.

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