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News story

New research shows that 1 in 3 young women from lower socioeconomic groups are not comfortable challenging opinions in the workplace

07 Feb 2023

Young adults

I’d love to start my own business, but my confidence stops me.

Young woman taking part in survey

Research published today in partnership with Estée Lauder Companies has shown the barriers in the workplace being faced by women from lower socioeconomic groups.

The research found that:

  • 1 in 3 (32.2%) women aged 24 - 30 from lower socioeconomic groups are not comfortable challenging opinions in the workplace
  • Women from lower socioeconomic groups feel less confident expressing their opinions face to face when compared with affluent men (71.7% vs 83.6%).
  • Just 2 in 5 (44.7%) of women from these backgrounds said they would feel confident communicating their feelings to a work colleague if they were unhappy, anxious, or worried compared with 3 in 5 (58.6%) affluent men.

This research follows evidence of a persistent gap in opportunities available to women in the workforce.

A lack of confidence in communication is a key issue facing many young people, in particular young women from lower socioeconomic groups, and the National Literacy Trust advocates teaching communication skills as part of literacy in schools.

“Young women are telling us that they really value the time and opportunities to hone and develop their communication skills for all situations in life, including for the workplace and for the many and varied careers they are choosing to pursue. That’s why we have projects like Dream Big with The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland, which promote communication and literacy skills from the age of five, so that confidence in communication is embedded from childhood – a skill that will last them a lifetime.”

Fiona Evans, Director of School Programmes at the National Literacy Trust

“Since our founding we’ve been seeking, supporting, and scaling opportunities to advance possibilities for women in our business and around the world. Though much progress has been made, we know there is more work to be done, and these findings underscore the need for investment in women and girls. When women have the confidence, skills and support to voice their ideas, we all benefit. That’s why The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland is supporting projects like Dream Big, which promotes communication and literacy skills from the age of 5, and our ELC Open Doors Global Learning Community is helping mid-level career women to discover their power and lead from their strengths.

Sue Fox, President of Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland

Three quarters of 24 to 30-year-olds (75.4%) agreed that confidence in communication has an impact on their career, and a similar number believed it also impacts their wellbeing, aspirations, and relationships.

Prioritising teaching girls and young women the communication and literacy skills they need to communicate effectively from a young age could combat this problem. Low literacy skills are linked to high levels of deprivation, and the National Literacy Trust works with children and young people to increase their literacy and communication skills to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Read the full report here Find out more about Dream Big
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