Nearly one in three UK bosses admit that they have or would reject female applicants because they suspect that she ‘might start a family soon’.
The study, carried out by law firm Slater and Gordon, surveyed 501 UK bosses revealing that 15% anonymously admitted that they had broken sex discrimination laws.
Remziye Ozcan, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, says: “A huge shift in attitudes still needs to take place before women feel they are not penalised for wanting both a career and children. Men are never asked to choose between the two.
“This discrimination also affects women generally, those who don’t plan to have children or already have children as it is about attitudes and stereotypes applied to women generally.”
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is classed as ‘pregnancy discrimination’ to treat a woman unfavourably on the grounds of her pregnancy or because she wants to take or has taken maternity leave.
Despite the presence of this legislation, which was implemented to prevent gender bias and unfair treatment in the workplace, 37% admitted that they would only advertise positions to men if the law was obliging, with 40% saying that they perceived men as being more committed to their roles.
The research found that a further 29% said they would have discounted or would discount a woman for a job role because she had young children, while 28% said they have or would have because she was recently engaged or married.
David Saul, co-founder and Managing Director at Business Environment told The Independent: “I am saddened that, despite huge progress made in the last decades, such a high proportion of women in the workplace still find they come up against the same old problems, especially in relation to family life and maternity leave.
"It’s great that women no longer feel they have to pursue the career of housewife if they don’t want to, but if this level of discrimination towards working women continues...
"...we could see females reverting back to the ways of pre-suffragette Britain, which would be a huge backwards step for gender equality.”
The research shows that the female workforce is still facing significant levels of discrimination when it comes to trying to build a career and starting a family.
Sadly, 14 % of those surveyed admitted they do not do thing to support mothers when coming back to work, after being on maternity leave.