Women ‘conditioned to feel less deserving than men’

edwina_dunn3British businesses must usher in a major cultural change to combat an “entitlement gap” which leaves many women socially conditioned to feel less entitled than men, with the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating the problem.

That is the stark conclusion of a new study by conducted by LinkedIn in partnership with educational charity The Female Lead, the organisation headed up DunnHumby co-founder Edwina Dunn, one of the most highly respected data professionals in the business.

The research, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, reveals that 44% of females agreed it is true that women feel less entitled to promotions or increased pay in the workplace, while more than a third (35%) had experienced an entitlement gap around career progression or pay increases, or had seen it experienced by others.

More men negotiate pay for a new role than women (63% compared to 40%) and salary increases with current employers (61% men compared to 38% women).

Nearly half (45%) of women quizzed had never negotiated a pay rise with their employer as they did not feel comfortable asking, compared to 34% of men. Some 40% of women agreed their career had been set back or put on hold since Covid struck and 41% have left or considered leaving the workforce.

The study also found that women’s jobs are more vulnerable than men’s, according to data on the UK and global labour market over the past 12 months, while way over two-thirds (69%) of women agree that having children has had a negative effect on their career progression, even despite flexible working policies.

The research found that at every stage of pay and promotion negotiations, women fell behind men. Women took longer to ask for a promotion, were less likely to negotiate a new role, and nearly half (45%) had never negotiated a pay rise with their employer. Of those who had never asked for a pay increase outside their annual review, just 17% of women would consider it, versus over third (37%) of men.

Dunn, who has been at the forefront of data science for nearly 30 years and a long-term champion of women in the work-place, insists this is not about fixing women but about fixing business culture.

She added: “Working women mid-career are making huge strides but, in too many cases, are held back by an unentitled mindset. Our in-depth research points to this psychological theory which acknowledges the way women have been socially conditioned to feel less entitled than men. This has created an entitlement gap which has got worse during the Covid outbreak.

“This is not a problem that will be solved by ‘fixing women’ but requires a wholesale transformation of business culture. Such measures will help both to raise awareness of the entitlement gap and over time to help to close it.”

More than a third (34%) of women surveyed agree that the pandemic has had a largely negative impact on working patterns, with two-fifths (40%) agreeing their career had been set back or put on hold since the pandemic hit due to increased responsibilities at home.

New data also shows women’s jobs are more vulnerable than men’s and that women have been hired at a lower rate since the pandemic. LinkedIn’s own data also shows that women’s careers have been more adversely affected by disruptions to jobs in retail, travel, leisure and that women were less likely to work in remote-ready roles.

LinkedIn senior director Janine Chamberlin commented: “To most women, the findings of our study will come as no surprise – there’s no doubt women have had a tough time this past year.

“You can see from our data how women’s jobs have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. And as well as their jobs being more vulnerable, many women have been forced to take on extra responsibilities at home. This is on top of an entitlement gap which is holding women back from the pay increases and promotions they deserve.”

Late last year, Dunn urged companies to ensure women play an even bigger part in a collaborative tech-driven future, arguing that firms will need all the talent they can bring to the fore in order to stimulate the post-Covid economic recovery.

Writing exclusively for Decision Marketing, Dunn bemoaned the fact that there is still a major disconnect between girls and STEM-related career paths in schools, citing research that shows nearly three-quarters (74%) of girls express an interest in STEM topics and careers, but only 0.4% end up choosing computer science for a degree.

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