Employers reluctant to hire women who might have children

Thursday 7 December 2017

Employers say they would be reluctant to hire women who might have children 

YWTOne in seven employers admit they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought may go on to have children, according to a YouGov survey for women’s charity Young Women’s Trust. 

In the survey of 800 HR decision-makers, a significant number were hesitant about hiring women in their 20s and 30s who might have children in the future – despite it being illegal to make hiring decisions on this basis. Concern was more common among male HR decision-makers (18 per cent) than female decision-makers (10 per cent). 

A quarter indicated that the organisation they work in takes account of whether a woman is pregnant or has young children during decisions about career progression or promotion, which is also in breach of the law. 

This comes after Young Women’s Trust found that 39 per cent of young mums had been illegally asked in job interviews about how being a mother would affect their ability to work. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“It’s no wonder women are held back in the workplace when employers have such outdated, discriminatory views. It is employers and our economy that miss out on the talents of young women as a result. Young women who want to work are meanwhile struggling to make ends meet and finding themselves in debt. 

“Employers should value young women’s contributions to their workplaces and do more to accommodate them, including by offering more flexible and part-time working opportunities. 

“It’s not just employers’ who need to stop treating women as second class citizens; society as a whole should support men to take an equal role in childcare. Until that happens, women will continue to face discrimination at work.” 

One in three employers surveyed said that men will never take an equal role in caring for children. 

ENDS 

Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust (http://www.youngwomenstrust.org/) supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey of HR decision-makers. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 800 employees with HR decision-making responsibility. The fieldwork was undertaken between 5th April and 3rd May 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by sector and size. The survey found that:
    1. 15 per cent, or one in seven, said “I would be reluctant to hire a woman who I thought may go on to have children” (18 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women);
    2. 14 per cent said “I would be concerned about recruiting women in their 20s and 30s who might have children in the future”;
    3. 25 per cent disagreed with the statement “Whether a woman is pregnant or has young children has no impact on organisational decisions regarding career progression or promotion”, indicating that a quarter think that it does have an impact; and
    4. 34 per cent, or one third, said that men and women will never take an equal role in caring for children. A further 27 per cent said it would take more than ten years for men to take an equal role.
    5. Young Women’s Trust commissioned Survation to poll young mothers about their experiences. The survey was conducted in February 2017 with a representative sample of 319 mothers aged 16 to 24 in the UK. The survey found that:
      1. 25 per cent had experienced discrimination when their employer found out they were pregnant;
      2. 39 per cent had been questioned in an interview about how being a mother affects their ability to work;
      3. 80 per cent said employers’ attitudes towards pregnant women or mothers with young children would play an important role in helping them find work; and
      4. 83 per cent said advertising more jobs with opportunities to work flexible hours would play an important role in helping them find employment, with 81 per cent saying the same for part-time hours.

For more information or case studies, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org

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