Two-thirds of professional women who return to work after a career break end up in lower-paid or low-skilled roles.
Research from PwC, Women Returners and 30% Club has revealed that there are approximately 427,000 women in the UK on a career break, and many plan to return to work.
However, 249,000 of these women are likely to come back to lower-skilled jobs, and another 29,000 women will work fewer hours than they would prefer due to a lack of flexible working options.
Julianne Miles, co-founder and director of Women Returners said employers often assume that women’s lack of recent experience means they are unable to function at a senior level.
She said: “A CV gap presents a significant barrier to resuming a successful professional career after a multi-year break.
“A US study found that managers prefer to hire a less qualified candidate over one who has been out of work for more than six months, as they assume skills have deteriorated; and this recruitment bias is far greater with a multi-year gap.
“Those returners seeking a part-time or flexible role to combine work with family life also struggle to find a suitable professional opportunity.”
The career downgrade also means that female returners often see a 12-32 per cent dip in their wages, averaging £4,000 per year.
Women Returners, PwC and 30 per cent Club have urged employers and recruiters to reassess how they evaluate women’s potential.
With research indicating that employing more women and increasing female leaders could add a £1.7bn to the UK economy, Laura Hinton, executive board member and head of people at PwC, said the system needs to change.
She said: “The business and economic arguments for getting more women back into high quality work following a career break are compelling.”
Brenda Trenowden, global chair of 30% Club said: “Getting more senior women back into the workplace will help businesses build stronger pipelines of potential female leaders and improve the diversity of businesses at senior levels.
“Returnships create an effective route back to mid- to senior-level professional roles, and the availability of part-time and flexible opportunities in professional roles helps widen the pool of talent businesses can access.”