Women face gender discrimination at all levels of their management career, not just at the ‘glass ceiling’, a new study claims.

Research from consultancy firm DDI examined data from more than 10,000 business leaders, including 3,800 women, and found that female managers receive less specialist training at all levels of the career ladder.

The findings show there are 28 per cent more men than women receiving specialist training at the first level of management, with this rising to 50 per cent more men at the executive level.

In addition, the research reveals that women are given less support than men when taking on new roles or being promoted, while they are also less likely to be offered multinational responsibilities.

Mary-Rose Lines, senior consultant at DDI UK, comments: ‘The benefits of diversity at all levels of leadership are clear and well-documented, so to find that women are being held back by “invisible discrimination” is both disappointing and worrying.’

The Confederation of British Industry recently claimed that an element of the equality bill could backfire if firms have to publish their average male and female pay.

Katja Hall, the group’s director of human resources policy, said women could be discouraged from applying to companies that have too few women in higher-paid positions, exacerbating the gender pay gap problem.

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