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.