25,000 women tell Project 28-40: “…get back to basics on diversity.”

| Apr 02, 2014

  • Women have similar confidence levels and the same top three ambitions as men
  • 70% of men and women want to be a leader at work
  • 77% of women are confident in ability to lead a team.

Women have similar levels of confidence and ambition to their male colleagues, as well as sharing priorities at work and in life, according to the Project 28-40 report.

Project 28-40, the UK’s largest ever survey of women in work, was commissioned by Opportunity Now, the workplace gender campaign of Business in the Community and undertaken by PwC’s Belfast-based research to insight team.

PwC’s Belfast research team surveyed 25,000 women and a sample of men and found that over three-quarters of women aged 28-40 (77%) have confidence in their ability to lead a team, while 70% have a real desire to be a leader at work.

That compares favourably with men aged 28-40, where the figures were 84% and 70% respectively said that had the confidence and desires respectively, to lead a team.

Women also want broadly the same things from work as male colleagues. When asked what success at work means to them, men and women both listed ‘Achieving a work/life harmony’, ‘Being involved in work that is meaningful or makes a difference’ and ‘Being able to provide for my family’ in their top three priorities.

Outside work, men and women too, have similar priorities. When asked what was important to them in life both men and women ranked ‘Working in a job that I enjoy’ and ‘Having free time to enjoy life outside work’ as first and second in importance.

Only 11% of women and 12% of men said getting to the top of their chosen career was very important to them.

However, the report also found that women want better basics to support their progression at work.

Top of the list are fair and transparent promotion and appraisal policies and improved professional development programmes – 44% of women said that these would be most likely to improve their career development opportunities.

Women also want a clear definition of roles to help them understand expectations at the next level; more support from and for their line managers in managing diverse teams; and making performance reviews more effective, and better agile working arrangements.

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO of Newton Investment Management and Chair of Opportunity Now, said:

“If business leaders are serious about change, we need to take the lead on women’s progression, moving this from a diversity initiative to a core business priority.

“Set aspirational targets for the number of women you want to see at every level of your organisation.”

Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC and a member of the Opportunity Now advisory board, said that more women than ever may be working, but the PwC research shows that the workplace isn't working for women:

“Too often there is a disconnect between organisations' policies and the actual experience of women at work. For example, despite the perception that flexible working helps women, it could actually be holding them back in many cases.

“People who work flexibly often feel they have to work harder for promotion, are resented by their peers and don’t progress as quickly.

“While the decision to go part-time is often made for short-term reasons, it seems to have a wider, long-term negative impact.

“We know women are confident and ambitious, but they have different goals to men.

“Until these goals are recognised as different, but valued equally with male priorities, workplaces will continue to disappoint and disillusion all but the most tenacious of women.

“To make real progress in supporting women's careers, we need workplaces and a society that value women's differences and support these aims.”

Download Project28-40_FinalReport_010414

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