Men should go part time to boost female careers

Posted on 14 Jan 2014 by The Manufacturer

A University of London academic has claimed males work patterns are limiting the progress of women into senior roles in business.

Dr Tom Schuller, a visiting professor at the Institute of Education, University of London and an expert on workforce development has claimed women will only be able to realise their full potential in the workplace, with significant benefit to the economy, if traditional male work patterns are changed. This means more men should work part time he says.

Dr Schuller’s research into female career trajectories and the potential economic impact of boosting female careers has also led to the coining of the termed the ‘Paula Principle’ –  the opposite of the Peter Principle, the 1960s management theory that employees (at that time, usually men) are generally promoted to their level of incompetence.

Schuller’s research follows on from a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission which showed it will be 2080 before an equal number of men and women directors in Britain’s top 100 companies.

Schuller points to a number of reasons for this including discrimination, caring responsibilities, lack of self-confidence or assertive ambition and lack of mentoring.

In addition Schuller suggests that the traditional male career pattern is barring the development of more flexible working conditions for all and therefore blocking the rise of more female leaders in business.

“Too much of the emphasis on gender equality at work involves helping women to work more like men,” says Schuller. “It is time to enable more men to work in ways that are currently the preserve of women.

“Men need to stop thinking about a career only in terms of continuously moving up a vertical ladder and think positively about lateral moves, perhaps working part-time and, above all, choosing work which uses their competences but does not go beyond them. Not only would the country benefit if that happens, I believe that many men would be happier too.”

Schuller will today conduct a seminar on the Paul Principle at the Institute of Education in London and is expected to publish a book on the theory.

Schuller is a visiting professor at the University of London and a former head of education research at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.