When it comes to work/life balance the challenges faced by men and women are “remarkably similar”, according to a leading career coach.
It comes after a new survey found that two-thirds of people believe motherhood impacts on a woman’s career progression.
The 2023 Workplace Equality Survey from Matrix Recruitment also found that three-quarters of people have experienced discrimination, either personally or through witnessing it.
Meanwhile, 44% of people know a colleague of the opposite sex with the same job who is being paid more than them.
Them and us
On Newstalk Breakfast, career coach and author Jane Downes said the figures are not surprising.
“I think we’ve all seen this; we have experienced this,” she said.
“I don’t want to create a 'them and us' here though because I think that is unhelpful.
“I think what we need to be looking at is, of course, promoting equality in the workplace where we can and ensuring the Government are creating strategies for low-cost childcare and paid family leave.
“I think from what we see on the ground, it is a bit of a mixed picture. Both men and women find converting into parenthood tricky on their career.”
Ms Downes said most organisations are used to the fact that many women take time out from work to have children.
“You know, society needs children,” she said. “Society needs women too and I think it is about how we play it.
“Our task as a woman - and the task is sometimes harder - is to ensure that we are performing really well so that we become indispensable and create that position of abundance for ourselves where we are performing so that going on maternity leave, once we have cover, is OK to do and we come back to our role.
“I do think that women and men’s challenges about work/life balance, in my opinion, from what I see on the ground working with amazing men and women, is that it is remarkably similar.
“We need balance and we need to create practices where we can support employees to do their job and do it well while also supporting the organisations.”
When it comes to the gender pay gap, Ms Fownes said companies and workers are now more aware of the issue.
“Women are beginning to speak up more and request it and I think the more we do that the more we are going to get it,” she said.
“I think organisations are getting scared; the ones that originally might have had that approach where men are paid more – ridiculous.
“But I think that is changing and I am seeing that, but I think it is up to women to fight for that in a nice way and measured way and get what they need and put a value on the work that they are doing.
“Women can tend to, sometimes, have a little bit of imposter syndrome going on, even though they are typically good at what they do.
“So we have got to watch that and develop confidence.”