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Women win the boardroom battle

By Nick Easen for CNN

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Female directors still only account for 13 percent of all boardroom positions.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Bigger pay rises, higher average salaries and a fatter wage packet than the other gender -- this time it is happening to women rather than men.

According to the latest survey of British workers, released on Wednesday, the gender gap in the office is narrowing. More women are at work than ever before and there is greater female influence at senior management level, as well as in the boardroom.

The figures also show that more women are breaking through the so-called "glass ceiling" and creating a "boardroom greenhouse effect" as companies warm to the idea of women in management roles.

"Organizations are realizing you should not restrict roles because of gender," Mike Petrook from the Chartered Management Institute told CNN.

"Certainly the glass ceiling is cracking and companies appreciate that they have to pay men and women equally at the boardroom level."

The survey of 21,987 British managers by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) covered 10 different industries from manufacturing to the public sector.

Managers in 354 companies from small enterprises to multinational firms were interviewed, as well as six different management functions from human resources to sales.

Over the last five years results show that the number of women directors has risen from less than one in 10 to one in seven.

Female bosses are also getting bigger pay rises than men -- the eighth year in a row this has happened, with women seeing an average rise of five percent compared with men's 4.7 percent.

At the department head level, women are also earning more than their male equivalents, with an average wage of £51,854 ($92,195) compared to £50,459 for men ($89,715).

Almost a third of department managers are now women. Back in 1974 they accounted for only two percent.

The results also defy the belief of a "glass cliff" for women in the boardroom. A situation where women are more likely to be appointed to precarious positions , where they are more likely to fail.

Researchers at Exeter University have shown that many FTSE 100 firms appointed women to senior positions only after a downturn in their fortunes, leaving them standing on the edge of a "glass cliff." Read more

"The (survey) shows that the "glass cliff" does not exist, all you have to do is look at the labor turnover figures," says Petrook.

The number of women resigning from their job decreased from 6.4 percent in 2002 to 5.3 percent in 2004, whereas male resignations jumped. More men (2.9 percent) than women (2.8 percent) were also made redundant in the last 12 months.

"But there is still a long way to go if women are to achieve true parity in the workplace," says Christine Hayhurst, CMI's director of professional affairs.

"Huge efforts have been made to work towards equality in the workplace and organisations must continue to put measures in place to meet these demands."

Hayhurst believes that failure to ensure workplace equality could lead to more discrimination cases.


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