The Great Debate UK

Aiming for leadership equality in the UK


MargiGordon- Margi Gordon is director of tailored programmes at Roffey Park Institute – a provider of Leadership and Management courses. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

It’s been 40 years since the Equal Pay Act and yet there is still a gender reward gap.  We know that professional women in the UK start their careers on equal pay with men and continue to do well until they take a career break to have children. They then face the difficult choice of prioritising their career or their family.

Some find suitable child care and return to work full time, others decide to role swap and their husband stays at home, struggling to establish a support network and integrate into the ubiquitous mothers’ and toddlers’ groups. Others decide to set up their own business, where they can decide their working patterns, and often find this is far more rewarding and successful than their previous professional career.

The other option, favoured by many women (and a small number of men) is to work part- time until the children become more independent. This achieves a practical balance between home and work but at a cost to the woman’s career. All too often the senior roles are considered too demanding to be handled by a part-time or job-share applicant. The result is that women find themselves marking time for about 10 years whilst their career is on a plateau. Women accept this is the price they have to pay for being a mother.