6th July 1999




Women breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’ into senior management jobs still have a long way to go, according to a study by an academic from the University of Lincolnshire & Humberside.


The joint report by Jenny Headlam-Wells and Valerie Mills from the University of Westminster reveals that the vital ingredients needed to achieve a successful career at the top are:


·      having no dependent children


·      involving a grandmother or live-in nanny to provide full-time care.


In a survey of 60 employers across the country and twenty female senior managers, the report exposes just how difficult it can still be for ambitious women with families to achieve their career goals in 1999.


Women are making significant in-roads as one-third of all managers are now female,” said Ms Headlam-Wells. “However, far fewer women break through the ‘glass ceiling’ to reach senior management positions with any real power attached to them.”


An important factor for success cited by the managers, who earned from £25,000 to £150,000 a year and came from Humberside, Liverpool and London, was establishing a career well before having children and then not taking a ‘career break’ of more than six months.


This consensus was also backed up by the majority of employers interviewed who said that taking a career break had an adverse effect on women’s career prospects.


Having a supportive partner - ideally working from home - was also an important factor for many of the women. Almost two-thirds of respondents said restrictions and responsibilities linked to the family had a negative impact on career progression.


“It is often assumed that organisational culture and women’s management style are the main factors in inhibiting career progression, but in this report we argue that women’s career choices and position are largely shaped by the lack of reliable childcare facilities,” she added.





The report was financed by the European Social Fund EMPLOYMENT NOW initiative and the findings provide the basis for the course ‘Women into Management in the 21st Century’ run by three UK universities including ULH and several international partner institutions.






Ms Headlam-Wells will be happy to talk to you about this issue. To contact her please phone 01482 463055. A copy of the report is available upon request. 


Media enquiries to: Sam Hendley, Press Officer. Tel: 01522 886042.