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Although women have made significant progress in recent years, they now find that their path up the career ladder is still held back by a clearly visible “glass ceiling,” a new study by LinkedIn shows.

The social media platform found that the proportion of women hired into senior roles in the UK increased from 31.6% in 2016 to 37.8% in 2022.

However, this upward trend has come to a halt in the last two years. In 2024, the proportion of women in management positions has fallen to 37.1%.

Ireland is the only European country analyzed by LinkedIn where this proportion has increased in the past year. However, the global trend has been declining in recent years.

This would imply that the easy wins for diversity in the workplace have already been achieved and that equality requires either only marginal progress or a full-scale revolution in the workplace. This also underscores the harsh reality that women face in times of economic recession.

“LinkedIn’s data shows that the limited progress made in recent years in advancing women into leadership roles is being erased as women pay the price of a slowing economy,” said Sue Duke, vice president of global public policy and economic charts at LinkedIn.

“The result? The proportion of women in management positions has increased by less than 1 percent in six years.”

There are also longer-term obstacles that hinder a woman’s career advancement. The main cause of this is care during pregnancy.

These barriers have proven difficult to completely eliminate. In fact, they are so pervasive that Gen Z women are unlikely to close the gender pay gap by the time they retire.

“For a 21-year-old woman entering the workforce today, gender pay equality remains out of reach and analysis suggests it will take over 45 years to close the UK gender pay gap,” wrote the authors of a PwC report on the pay gap published in June.

AI transformation

However, data from LinkedIn suggests there is hope for women in the AI ​​revolution – an optimistic view of a technology that is often accompanied by doomsday predictions.

The platform predicts that the typical skills required for jobs around the world will change by 68% by 2030 compared to today.

According to the report’s authors, the soft, interpersonal qualities of these skills, such as leadership and team spirit, are predominantly found in women. On LinkedIn, women have a 28% higher share of soft skills than men.

While the prospect of AI impacting gender dynamics is positive, women need to be wary of negative impacts. LinkedIn’s Duke points out that men make up the majority of AI talent. Studies have shown that women are also more at risk from the technology than men.

“Opportunities for women to advance in their careers will disappear if employers do not consider gender in training to ensure that the workplace changes in a fair and equitable way.”

further reading

PwC study finds British Generation Z women unlikely to close gender pay gap before retirement

Only 5% of the most important skills applicants need today will be the same in three years, says McKinsey: “Companies will not find perfect unicorns”

Single women are struggling to make ends meet: the wage gap and inflation make it difficult for them to build up assets or a nest egg

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