Almost half of female professionals do not expect to be working full-time in 2010, according to a report by HR consultancy Hudson.
About three-quarters of the 1,000 UK female professionals questioned said they were disappointed with their career progress to date, citing a lack of free time outside the working day and poor professional prospects as key factors.
Respondents of all ages said they were disenchanted with inflexible working practices and three-quarters said they were not able to work from home regularly.
Nearly two-thirds of the 500 employers surveyed admitted that if more women left to pursue unconventional career paths, it would have a major impact on their business and their ability to recruit.
Despite this, 87% of employers said they did not have specific attraction and retention plans in place for women.
The research revealed a significant gap between perception and practice. While 85% of employers said they were actively committed to providing flexible working opportunities, just 58% said adaptable working was a viable option in their company.
“Many women have tasted corporate life and have decided there are better ways of making their mark on the world than following the traditional working model set before them,” said Geraldine Hetherington, chief operating officer of Hudson UK.
Hetherington said employers needed to ensure they provide effective career management programmes for women and recruit more senior-level women to ensure they are in touch with their needs.
“It’s not just the demands of family life that are encouraging women to reject working conventions in favour of their own methods,” she said.
“To have more control over where, when and how they work, they are setting up their own business, retraining or pursuing a ‘portfolio’ career.”