How does working from home impact women’s careers?

Agnieszka Kasperska tells Amelia Brand in our latest podcast about the detrimental mental, financial and physical consequences of working remotely for women.

Agnieszka explains how working from home can impact women’s careers through diminishing networking opportunities, meaning that interpersonal contacts can be impaired when working from home. Agnieszka also explains how working remotely results in receiving fewer training and development opportunities, which has a direct impact on career progression.

However, whilst Agnieszka outlines the ways in which remote working can negatively impact a women’s career, she also argues that it does not necessarily have to. She outlines that this is dependent on a variety of factors, including organisational conditions, and individual characteristics of the employee. 

For example, if an employee works at home where remote working is normalised, perhaps she will not be as negatively impacted.

However, individual characteristics such as parental status can also play a role here, Agnieszka explains. 

“THEREFORE, IT IS DIFFICULT TO PUT ALL REMOTE WORKERS INTO THE SAME BAG, AND I CAN DEFINITELY SAY THAT THERE ARE CAREER RISKS, BUT THERE ARE ARE ALSO CERTAIN MITIGATING STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE PUT IN PLACE.”

Agnieszka Kasperska

Agnieszka recently finished a research project which looked at the length between working from home and career prospects from gender and parenthood perspectives. She analysed a large sample of approximately 20,000 employees from 35 European countries. She explored whether those who work from home report hindered career prospects.

The findings were interesting, and revealed that mothers who work from home often report worse career prospects than those who work more from the office.

“I FOUND THAT THE GENDER GAP APPEARS EVEN WHEN WOMEN WORK FROM THE OFFICE, BUT IT MEANS THAT MEN ARE MORE LIKELY BY ONLY 5 PERCENTAGE POINTS TO REPORT BETTER CAREER PROSPECTS. THAT GENDER GAP INCREASES TO APPROXIMATELY 16 PERCENTAGE POINTS WHEN IT COMES TO THOSE WHO WORK FROM HOME.”

Agnieszka Kasperska

This implies a certain level of motherhood penalty combined with the flexibility stigma attached to those working from home.

Despite these findings, Agnieszka is adamant that women should not stop working from home. Instead, organisations should change their strategies, and rethink how they approach those employees who use flexible working arrangements. 

Amelia is then joined by Elissa Dobson, who speaks about another major issue that women face in the workplace – menopause. 

Elissa firstly outlines how menopausal symptoms are very much misunderstood. Brain-fog, exhaustion joint-pain, anxiety and depression are all menopausal symptoms, which have a profound effect on women.

“MY CAREER WAS ENDED BECAUSE OF MENOPAUSE.”

– Elissa Dobson

Elissa explained how having previously held very senior positions in organisations, and started losing her confidence, sat in meetings forgetting people’s names. 

Experiencing horrific brain-fog and bad anxiety led her to unfortunately walking out of her career. Health-care professionals never related her experiences to her hormonal perimenopause journey she was on.

 

“ONE IN TEN WOMEN LEAVE THEIR CAREER DUE TO MENOPAUSE. THIS IS A FRIGHTENING STATISTIC WHICH WE NEED TO CHANGE.”

– Elissa Dobson

Elissa explains hiwo more education is needed. Most people think menopause is an age-related thing, but really it is hormonal related. There is a real stigma because we do not talk about it, says Elissa. It is such a sensitive and personal part of a woman’s life, which has sadly become a hidden taboo topic within the workplace.

Elissa encourages women to “embrace” their menopause, advising HR teams to normalise conversations about menopause within the workplace. 

Senior leadership teams and staff should all be making people feel comfortable talking about menopause, including men as well. 

“THROUGH EDUCATION AND ENGAGING PEOPLE IN THE CONVERSATION, YOU CAN START TO SPOT THE SIGNS AND NORMALISES WHAT IS GOING ON. IT THEN BECOMES EASIER TO IDENTIFY WHAT SORT OF HEALTH AND SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS NEED.”

– Elissa Dobson

 

Click here to listen now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.