We have come a long way in the UK to create a more egalitarian society and create better opportunities for women in their careers, there is still much more to do especially compared to say the Nordic regions who are seemingly more progressive in their culture to promote opportunities beyond stereotypical roles. And yet, a *study has shown evidence of an unexpected paradox of working in the most equal of countries.

The study observed that the more genders have equal opportunities, the more the gap between the sexes widens, when it comes to job choices.

Indeed, women are steering more towards traditional female-type roles ~ the very opposite of what was intended in these equal societies.

So, what do we take from this data? This is surprising as you would expect in societies that have equal opportunities to see more women in positions traditionally held by males. You would perhaps predict that women would move away from stereotypical occupations but the evidence is showing the opposite.

We speak with women-in-business-champion Alex Theis, who is actively involved in personal development and career coaching of young professionals, and in particular women. Here’s her insights:

Similar to the Nordic regions, UK organisations are really trying, offering equal opportunities in their culture transforming programmes, and it’s driving change with the active recruiting of women in senior roles. As this continues, we will hopefully see a closing of the gap between the sexes with salaries and opportunities.

Could self-realisation be the key to moving women forward?

Alex continues: “I work with women daily, be it on the trading floor expanding my clients’ wealth portfolio or career coaching a young female professional to secure that higher-paying-boardroom-position that she’s had her eye on for years. From my viewpoint, I am seeing that the low numbers of leadership positions held by women may be partly to do with many young women’s mindsets. A good number of my female clients are not as confident as they should be or they may not have discovered their unique strengths yet, many just don’t realise their value and their amazing potential, it just needs to be un-locked”.

The study findings need exploring further and we should definitely watch what’s happening in the UK closely, and we must continue to work for change where any disparity in salaries and opportunities still exist. But what if we are missing a vital key? Maybe if we find it, we could avoid what’s happening in the Nordics? When it comes to senior roles in business, we know many employers are opening doors to women, but could women be holding themselves back? Maybe self-realisation will be the key to women discovering their value and importance in business, enabling women to step through the doors of enterprise into more leadership roles.

*Armin Falk and Johannes Hermle’s study in Science Journal:
Further reading on this topic see Reporter Maddy Savage writings for the BBC regarding Nordic region: