Progress being made for women in senior roles, but Covid-19 may cause a roadblock

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Preference for part-time and flexible work and may put more women than men at risk of job loss



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30 April 2020 | 0

Women in Irish businesses may be more susceptible to job losses at the hands of Covid-19 than their male colleagues.

This comes from Prof Anthony McDonnell, head of the department of management and marketing at Cork University Business School, UCC, who warns that the coronavirus may derail progress made for women in organisational roles.

Irish businesses have taken measures to promote gender diversity and inclusion, according to a recent report from the 30% Club. The number of women in lower level management increased from 30% in 2015 to approximately 45% in 2018. Further, the proportion of women at executive director level rose from 23% to 30%, and at CEO level from 14% to 18% in the same period.




Still, Prof McDonnell insists that now is not the time for self-congratulations, but a time to further focus on ensuring the progress being made continues.  

Prof McDonnell noted that the global pandemic may negatively impact females disproportionately, given that women earn less than men and conduct a higher proportion of part-time and precarious work.

Women may face higher instances of job losses while also being viewed as less valuable within households that have dual earners, Prof McDonnell added.

The recent suspension of the requirement for companies in Britain to report on their gender pay gap given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is another cause for concern. Prof McDonnell stated: “This development is an early example of actions that may at least implicitly derail the positive steps that had been taken when gender pay gap reporting was introduced.”

To help promote women in senior project management, human resources and leadership roles within organisations, the department of management and marketing, Cork University Business School, UCC in association with the 30% Club has announced two new full scholarships.

These scholarships have been offered with the goal of achieving better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses. Dean of Cork University Business School, Prof Thia Hennessy, said: “Society is still not doing enough to support women in the workforce. We do not have enough females in senior business roles.  

“I am a great admirer of the work of the 30% Club and we are delighted to be able to offer these scholarships at UCC and give the opportunity to aspiring female business leaders to fulfil their potential through undertaking our MSc in Human Resource Management and our MSc in Project Management.” 

There is one full scholarship available on each programme and is open to all female applicants who meet the entry requirements and have accepted a place on the respective offering.  

The deadline for submission of applications is 10 July 2020. Full details on the application process can be found at: 

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