Almost two-thirds of female directors believe that taking a career break to have a family puts them on the wrong side of the boardroom door.
Two-thirds of the 105 women directors interviewed by Praxis Executive Resourcing are convinced that women are treated equally, but this dramatically drops to 32% who believe women have equal opportunities to become board directors.
And it’s not a straightforward case of male oppression, suggests the report. The biggest reason for women not making it onto the board is a perceived lack of networking skills compared with their male counterparts, according to 68% of the respondents, followed by taking a career breaks (64%).
A lack of female role models (58%) and putting the family before career (48%) are also huge factors in slowing their progress up the greasy pole.
“It takes total commitment and a willingness to make a lot of sacrifices, particularly in your personal life,” says one respondent, a director of a large plc.
“A lot of my female friends and colleagues just aren’t willing to do that. Rightly or wrongly, they’re more interested in achieving a balance between work and the rest of their lives and that’s why I’m where I am and they’re not,” she adds.
Despite the negative comments, most of the directors are optimistic about prospects for younger women execs hungry for the top.
This was first published in September 2006