Chief economist warns working from home will damage women’s careers

12 November 2021, 09:20 | Updated: 12 November 2021, 10:41

According to Ms Mann, women remained working from home due to childcare difficulties
According to Ms Mann, women remained working from home due to childcare difficulties. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Working from home and hybrid working could be harmful women’s careers, a chief economist has warned.

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Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Member, Catherine Mann, said predominantly working from home could cause the gender gap to widen.

According to Ms Mann, childcare difficulties and schooling disruption impacted the number of women returning to the office with some being forced to work from home or take a hybrid approach, whilst men began to return to the office.

The former chief economist at Citigroup explained that being seen in person at the office is an important part of building a career and that women who choose to work from home could risk their career progression.

"There is the potential for two tracks," she said whilst speaking at a Financial News event.

"There’s the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track.

"And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately."

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According to the latest ONS statistics, around 70 per cent of working adults in Great Britain reported travelling to work at some point in the past seven days.

But according to a survey conducted by Nursery provider Bright Horizons earlier this year, half of those it surveyed complained that employers were unsympathetic or did not offer practical help with childcare needs.

Many workers still do not feel confident about discussing family issues with their employers despite the huge changes over the past year, with fewer than three in five saying their organisation cares about their work-life balance, said the report.

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Whilst the economist has warned working from home could be harmful to women’s careers, a Monetary Policy Report by the Bank of England said: "There has been a fall in the number of women reporting that they are inactive in the labour market for reasons of looking after the family or home.

"That may be linked to an increasing ease of working from home, which could prove to be long-lasting, increasing labour market participation."

Last month, Boris Johnson told Nick Ferrari that young people should get back to work or risk being "gossiped about and lose out".

The PM said: "For young people in particular, it is really essential ... if you are going to learn on the job, you can't just do it on Zoom.

"You have got to be able to come in, you have got to know what everyone else is talking about - otherwise you are going to be gossiped about and you are going to lose out."