Women who work from home will damage their careers, economist warns

Women who continue to work from home risk hurting their careers, a top female economist has warned.

Catherine Mann, who is on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, said a hybrid form of working could open ‘two tracks’ and widen the gender gap.

A disparity between the number of men and women returning to the workplace is emerging due to difficulties accessing childcare and disruptions to schooling related to Covid, the former Citigroup global chief economist explained. 

This means more men are returning to offices while women continue working from home or taking a hybrid approach.

‘Virtual platforms are way better than they were even five years ago. But the extemporaneous, spontaneity – those are hard to replicate in a virtual setting,’ she told a Financial News virtual event for women in finance.

Catherine Mann, who is on the Bank of England¿s Monetary Policy Committee, said a hybrid form of working could open ¿two tracks¿ and widen the gender gap.

Catherine Mann, who is on the Bank of England¿s Monetary Policy Committee, said a hybrid form of working could open ¿two tracks¿ and widen the gender gap.

Catherine Mann, who is on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, said a hybrid form of working could open ‘two tracks’ and widen the gender gap.

‘There is the potential for two tracks. There’s the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track,’ she said.

‘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.’

She added being seen in person is a vital way for women to build their careers and become known in the workplace.

The number of those working from home has decreased since national restrictions began to ease in March and by October only 15 per cent of those surveyed were working solely from home, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It comes after Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist from Alliance Manchester Business School, said: ‘Employers now see that employees don’t have to show face time.

‘The big question we don’t have the answer to is, during this 15-month period, have enough men said to themselves life isn’t just about work. Did they begin to reprioritise and understand how important the family is?’

Cooper told the Guardian that if men choose to take up the offer to return to the office while women use the hybrid model, it would be problematic, adding: ‘Women will be working substantially from home and the men will go in more days a week than the women, and that will adversely affect their career.’   

A disparity between the number of men and women returning to the workplace is emerging due to difficulties accessing childcare and disruptions to schooling related to Covid, the former Citigroup global chief economist explained (file image)

A disparity between the number of men and women returning to the workplace is emerging due to difficulties accessing childcare and disruptions to schooling related to Covid, the former Citigroup global chief economist explained (file image)

A disparity between the number of men and women returning to the workplace is emerging due to difficulties accessing childcare and disruptions to schooling related to Covid, the former Citigroup global chief economist explained (file image)

Joeli Brearly, founder of the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, said those with caring responsibilities will choose to split their time at the office and at home.

She said those who choose to work from home will not have as good a relationship with their managers and could look ‘less committed’ to their job.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove suggested in June that a hybrid model that included home working was likely to become the norm for many, adding: ‘We won’t go back to the status quo.’

It could effectively allow the millions of office staff who have worked from home during the pandemic to remain doing so for all or part of the week, indefinitely.

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