36% of female respondents said they had taken a career break, in comparison to only 10% of male respondents. Women were also more likely to say they felt their career prospects were worse following a career break. This is likely to be linked to the type of career break taken – a career break for education, study or research was perceived to have a positive impact on career, whilst a break for maternity, paternity or adoption leave was perceived to have a negative impact.
Our pay and rewards survey includes our members outside the UK, which has allowed us to draw some international comparisons, although sample sizes are small. Chemical scientists in the USA and Canada earned a significantly higher salary on average than their counterparts in other locations – although this came with an increased degree of responsibility in their role.
Inclusion and diversity
A high proportion of both men and women agree that they feel able to be themselves at work, although there is still a great deal of room for improvement in this area. In addition, a significantly lower proportion of women than men feel that their working environment is diverse and inclusive, or that there are equal opportunities for all employees where they work.
Passion as a motivator
Both men and women said that their primary motivation for work was being passionate about what they were doing, followed by a preference for work that impacts society positively. Work–life balance was another top motivator. Financial recognition, on the other hand, was only deemed important by 10% of women and 16% of men.
Leadership is a key skill
We asked respondents what skills they felt they needed in order to advance their careers, and identified leadership as a key skill – chosen by 56% of respondents. Communication and networking followed closely behind. We also found that skill needs change as responsibility increases, and at different career stages. Technical skills and project management were deemed to be important at earlier career stages, with influencing skills becoming more important as careers progress.