The barriers

So what’s stopping women from progressing to senior roles?

Of course there are many different barriers to women’s progression in the workplace. Many are cultural factors that need to be addressed organisationally and societally…others are personal factors that can be covered within the scope of coaching.

Metallic Wrecking Ball Shattering WallFactors in our culture and society (Government Equalities Office 2019) include:
  • The challenges of balancing caring responsibilities with career responsibilities – which often hit women’s careers hardest.
  • The impact of switching to flexible/part time working in a working environment where full time hours are considered the only ‘acceptable’ show of serious ambition and role achievement.
  • The role of networking and the importance of attending networking events – often male dominated in many industries, often outside ‘normal’ working hours and therefore more inaccessible to women juggling care responsibilities.
  • The tendency of seniors to promote in their mirror image.

Michelle P. King suggests in her book ‘The Fix’ (2020) that the problem is not women, it’s the workplace; that the workplaces we inhabit have been largely designed by men, for men – and therefore women face a number of invisible barriers in traditional masculine-culture workplaces that prevent them from rising to the top.

She suggests that whilst we’re told that organisations are meritocracies, that all workers are the same and are treated in the same way, the fact is that women and men have different experiences and challenges advancing at work because they are different and organisations were not designed to accommodate this.

Of course inequality and lack of inclusivity adversely affect women in the workplace – but similarly, men also pay a price. In ‘masculine’ workplace cultures the expectation of long hours, job demands, socialising and networking behaviours, parental leave and family responsibilities etc can weigh heavily on anyone striving for career progression.

Hence, surely, it’s workplaces that need to be fixed, not women?


Personal factors can include:
  • Imposter feelings – feeling you’re about to be discovered as a fake
  • Taking things too personally – it’s business, not personal
  • Lack of self-efficacy and self-belief – doubting yourself too much
  • Not seeing the importance of self-promotion, branding and visibility
  • Failing to effectively manage workplace relations and office politics
  • Not recognising or playing to your own strengths

These factors can be addressed through 1 to 1 executive coaching.

Executive coaching for women incorporates personal, leadership and management development to enable them to take up their authority effectively in order to manage people and relationships, handle workplace transitions, face new challenges, deal with organisational change and prepare for more senior roles.

As a coach, I work with aspirational women – senior leaders, middle managers and emerging women managers with potential to rise high within the corporate world.