Senior management and leadership roles in FE colleges are still out of reach for most women, warns Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK).
According to the sector skills council, responsible for the professional development of staff working in the UK lifelong learning sector, women are missing out on top jobs because they continue to be full-time and male-dominated.
"There are a range of issues affecting workplace gender equality, such as recruitment practice, progression and career paths, and workplace culture, but the insufficient number of senior positions available on a part-time job-share basis within the FE sector is preventing more women from applying for these roles," says Mary Joyce, LLUK’s director of planning, standards & performance.
Workforce data for 2007-08 reveals that although 60 per cent of FE staff work part-time, the female-to-male ratio for senior managers stands at 45:55, compared to 64:36 for the overall workforce.
Just less than one in ten of senior managers (9.6 per cent) work part-time, compared with nearly a third (27.1 per cent) of middle managers and 72 per cent of service staff.
During a recent inquiry into the financial services sector, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) highlighted poor availability of part-time and flexible work patterns as major barriers affecting the career progression of women. This holds true for the FE sector too as the survey shows flexibility remains inconsistent across different job roles.
Ms Joyce adds: "By supporting staff and offering flexible and fair working, employers can help to ensure continued commitment and good retention of staff, and may facilitate greater diversity within the workforce.
"Innovative employment practices are essential to maintaining a highly-skilled and knowledgeable workforce, especially in the current recession. Without these, and as the Equality and Human Rights Commission has stressed this week, arbitrary barriers will prevent employers from bringing in new talent."