The lack of proper childcare is still holding back women in the workplace

There was a time when it was the norm for women to sacrifice any prospect of a career because of their responsibility for childcare.

Unwilling to succumb to this stereotype I remember the moment when I decided that even if all my salary went on childcare, I’d still work.

Things haven’t changed much. One in five people (19%) in Britain say childcare issues stopped them from applying for a job, or promotion at work, or caused them to leave work, or to consider leaving a job.

A survey with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, finds this applies as always mainly to women who are twice (26%) as likely as men (13%) to say this. So much for equal parenting.

Two in five people (41%) still say having childcare responsibilities during the working day is more likely to damage the career of a woman, compared with just one in 10 (9%) who think it’s more likely to damage a man’s career.

Balancing work and caring responsibilities is a top issue facing women, affecting one in five. Beyond the workplace, the top issues affecting British women are domestic abuse (31%), sexual harassment (27%) and sexual violence (23%), and we’re more likely to see a range of institutions treating women worse than men.

Perceptions of bias against women are particularly high when it comes to media and social media: two in five people think women are treated worse than men by the media (43%), and half think the same for social media (49%).

Kelly Beaver, chief executive of Ipsos UK, who carried out the survey said: “This latest research highlights the fact that for women to become truly equal in the workplace, men need to become truly equal at home, ensuring that caring responsibilities are split evenly.

“The data also shows the continuing perception gap, with men thinking things are more equal in workplaces than women. It’s a gap that must be overcome to make progress on workplace gender equality.”

Professor Rosie Campbell, director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the fact that childcare is core infrastructure.

“While access to affordable, high-quality childcare has increased in the UK over recent decades, Britain remains behind many other European nations, and this has a knock-on effect on both individuals and society’s ability to reach our full economic potential.”

When will women get a fair crack of the whip?