Glass ceiling crumbles as women win at work


The number of women directors in Britain’s boardrooms has leaped from fewer than one in ten to one in seven over the last five years, while women’s earnings are growing faster than their male counterparts.

Figures released as part of the 30th annual National Management Salary Survey of 21,987 people, published by the Chartered Management Institute and Remuneration Economics, highlight just how fast the ‘glass ceiling’ has given way to a ‘Boardroom Greenhouse Effect’ as UK organisations warm to the idea of women in senior leadership roles.

The findings show that one in three (31 per cent) of the management population is now female, compared to fewer than a quarter (22 per cent) in 2000 and less than two per cent when the survey began in 1974.

Female directors now account for 13 per cent of all Boardroom posts and the number of women in other senior leadership roles has also grown.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of department heads are women compared to less than one fifth (19 per cent) in 2000. Women also represent 38 per cent of all team leaders, a rise of ten per cent on 2000.

The research shows an average salary rise of 5 per cent for female managers. With male managers only awarded an average increase of 4.7 per cent these figures represent eight successive years that female earnings growth have outperformed men.

This year’s increase in pay also means that, at department manager level, the average female salary breaks the gender gap (£51,854 compared to £50,459).

Women managers working in the chemical, IT and food industries earn more than their peers in the public and financial sectors and engineering is currently the sector offering the greatest average growth for women’s salaries, up £4,536 to £38,838 over the past twelve months. Women managers also earn more, on average, in research and development roles than their male colleagues (£45,100 compared to £44,347).

The survey also suggests that as women exert greater influence at a senior management level the proportion of female resignations is falling. Female labour turnover has dropped from 6.4 to 5.3 per cent over the past twelve months, whereas male resignations have jumped from 3.3 to 4.2 per cent.

Christine Hayhurst, director of professional affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “The research is immensely encouraging, but there is a long way to go if women are to achieve true parity in the workplace.

“There is still only one female chief executive in the FTSE-100 and while there is a significant change in the number of women holding senior leadership positions, they are a minority.”

She adds: “Huge efforts have been made to work towards equality in the workplace and organisations must continue to put measures in place to meet these demands. If they don’t there is a real danger that we will continue to see a rise in the number of tribunal discrimination cases.”

However the survey also emphasises the huge extent of ‘post-code penalties’ associated with female earning potential. Unsurprisingly women managers in Inner London enjoy the highest average income (£44,981). Those living in East Anglia are bottom of the female earnings league table on (£31,067), a difference of 44 per cent.

The region with the most improved package is the North West, having moved from eleventh to fourth in the rankings table. It represents a vast improvement in this region’s fortunes as last year’s results showed a drop for the North West from seventh position in 2002.

Paul Campfield, director of Remuneration Economics, said: “In thirty years there have been a number of significant changes tracked by the National Management Salary Survey. One of the most fascinating trends has been the expanding role of women in the workplace.

"We may have moved away from the ‘glass ceiling,’ but we now have a duty to ensure that ‘Boardroom Greenhouse Effect’ allows us to continue to develop our workforce.”