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Women Directors 'Own Worst Enemy'

September 14 2006 - A survey of over 100 female directors in the UK has found that many believe that women may be their own worst enemies when it comes to success in the boardroom.

The survey of 105 women directors at companies across the UK, conducted by executive recruitment specialist, Praxis Executive Resourcing, showed that, while 66% of them believed women enjoyed equal opportunities across the whole workplace, only 32% believed that women had the same chance as men of becoming a board director.

However, the reasons why the majority felt that women had a harder time in reaching the boardroom made interesting reading.

Only 44% of this group believed that the reason was the current dominance by men of senior management positions.

64% thought that breaking their careers to have a family put them at a disadvantage, while 48% believed that putting family before career did the same.

58% of the group blamed the shortage of female directors on a presumption by that they would not reach the boardroom, while a massive

68% also believe that it was down to a lack of networking skills in comparison to their male counterparts. As one female director of a large plc put it, "It doesn't matter whether you are a man or a woman - getting a meaningful board position isn't easy.

It takes total commitment and a willingness to make a lot of sacrifices, particularly in your personal life. A lot of my female friends and colleagues just aren't willing to do that. Rightly or wrongly, they're more interested in achieving a balance between work and the rest of their lives and that's why I'm where I am and they're not."

Despite their general negativity about the current situation, 68% of the female directors questioned were optimistic about the prospects of women aiming for the boardroom in the future. 46% of the optimists cited the increasing number of role models for ambitious younger women, 32% the changing attitudes if society as a whole and 44% the need for companies to recruit and retain the best talent irrespective of gender or ethnic background.

"Women are still very much in the minority in UK boardrooms and our record is comparatively poor to some of our European neighbours," says Kate Mason, Head of Praxis Executive Resourcing. "A recent survey by the European Professional Women's Network, for example, found that only 10% of UK directorships are held by women as opposed to 22% in Sweden and 28% in Norway. However it's encouraging that the increasing number of female role models such as Indra Nooyi, the new head of PepsiCo, is inspiring more women to break the glass ceiling into the boardroom."

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