Introduction to Doyenne
Doyenne is a flexible working platform for women interested in continuing their careers post-motherhood.
As a social enterprise, our purpose is to achieve greater gender equality in the workplace by supporting women to continue their careers on a flexible basis. After becoming mothers, we’re often faced with many different forms of discrimination and are at the mercy of implicit gender bias. In fact, every year 54,000 women are forced out of work due to pregnancy and maternity discrimination. I personally felt the effects when returning to work after maternity leave, I learnt I would be doing 50% of the role I had been doing before going on maternity leave. My manager refused to discuss the impact this change would have on my progression.
Although women make up half the population and nearly half the workforce, representation in senior roles and higher income levels is vastly disproportionate. In the end we find ourselves in a society where only 12% of full-time jobs paying over £150,000 are held by women, and where there are as many CEOs named Dave as women CEOs leading FTSE 100 companies.
Women not only face unrealistic/ conflicting expectations in the workplace but also at home. In the 2018 British Social Attitudes Survey 72% of people surveyed don't agree that a man should be the breadwinner and a woman should stay at home. But at the same time only 7% thought mothers of under-5s should work full-time. 38% deemed part-time working acceptable…
Gender stereotyping and biases don’t start affecting us when we have children, it starts much earlier, when we are children. When tested, at ages 5 – 6, children drew a roughly equal percentage of male and female scientists. They drew significantly more male scientists by ages 7 – 8. And at ages 14 – 15, they were drawing more male scientists by an average ratio of 4:1. These notions of gender have real life implications from the subjects that boys and girls succeed in at school through to the career fields they enter. So by the time we get to the stage in our lives when we’re having children, men are already earning more and so more likely to continue to be the breadwinners while women take on more household/ childcare responsibilities.
This isn’t just a problem for women. It’s a problem for families, for society and for businesses. Diverse teams perform better, and the UK’s most successful companies tend to have more women in senior management roles.
So what can we do? Flexible working for ALL and mandatory shared parental leave could help level the playing field. If men and women were equally likely to work flexibly and/or take parental leave, then parenthood wouldn’t be seen as a female phenomenon for which we should be penalised in the workplace.
For now, we're launching Doyenne. If we can get more women back in the workplace, or progressing through the ranks while working flexibly, that may go a long way in addressing workplace gender inequality. Flexibility is often viewed as something you “earn” through building goodwill at a company, not something that is always openly advertised on job ads. By showcasing employers that are interested in recruiting more talented women and enabling open conversations about flexible working, hopefully more women can feel that they have options in the workforce.
Doyenne offers ambitious women the opportunity to:
Find mid-senior level jobs with progressive employers.
Join a supportive community of like-minded women. (We know boys’ clubs exist in many forms, and men help each other up the ranks. Women need to build and develop support networks too.)
Access a range of support materials on the platform.
And employers are able to access a talent pool of highly skilled and qualified women.