Do women overthink decisions? Is this holding them back in the workplace? Does it stop them applying for promotions?
Legally, if an employer applies a practice or condition which places women at a particular disadvantage then it must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, otherwise it will amount to indirect discrimination. However, this disadvantage is self-imposed. It would not be difficult for an employer to show a legitimate and proportionate business need for requiring decisions to be made quickly or certainly by prescribed deadlines.
A new legal obligation on employers with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap comes into force in March 2018. The reports published to date generally show that on average men are paid more than the women, largely because women hold less of the senior roles.
Employers will no doubt be looking for ways to address this inequality, particularly public sector employers who have a positive duty under the Equality Act 2010 to advance equality through their practices. In doing so, they should take account of the obvious differences between the sexes (e.g. that more women work part-time and have greater care-giving responsibilities for dependents) but arguably also the subtle differences, so that women feel empowered to apply for promotions and make decisions in the way that men do.
Women, said Badenoch, tend to spend longer thinking about things. “When my husband and I are getting into a taxi, I always stop the taxi and say where I want to go. My husband jumps in the car and says, ‘This is where we are going’.