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Young women face more gender barriers at work than older colleagues

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Almost half of female workers between the ages of 18 and 34 report facing gender barriers in their careers, more than any other age group surveyed, according to a study by recruitment company Robert Half.

Of the women surveyed, 42% said they had faced barriers at work. This is compared to 34% of women aged 35-54. Only 26% of women older than 55 reported facing barriers, the smallest proprtion of the age groups. 

Estelle James, director at Robert Half, told HR magazine that despite the results she believes conditions have improved for women in the workplace.

"There is no doubt that women do have more opportunities than 30 years ago. Women now are more aware of the barriers they face and have higher expectations. It would be unfair to say that progress hasn't been made," she said. 

The report found that 24% of people believe women do not progress because they are too modest about their achievements and don't put themselves forward to top roles as readily as men.

"Research shows that men will apply for a role if they have 60% of the skills needed," James said. "For women the number can be as high as 95%. We need to be in a position where women are more willing to volunteer for positions." 

The report also suggests that women face inequality in their current roles. Almost a third (31%) said that they were assigned work below their level, with 19% saying that junior colleagues will not take instruction from them that they would from a male colleague at the same level.

James said more needs to be done to eradicate these issues. "Respect, equality and fairness need to be embraced by all, as in the end, it’s about the skills one brings to the workplace, not their gender,” she said.