Men are more than twice as likely to be promoted than women, after starting a family, according to new research from recruitment firm Hays.
The report surveying 5,400 professionals found that career progression after starting a family varies significantly between men and women.
A quarter of men were promoted after having children, compared to 10 per cent of women, according to Hays' study, while the vast majority of men either retained their role or moved into a more senior one after having children.
Women however, experienced a number of changes on their return to work. Nearly a third took a part-time role, while just over a quarter held the same position at the same hours they had prior to starting a family. Some 15 per cent resigned in order to search for more flexible work, while six per cent chose to become self-employed.
Parents often opt not to return to the workplace, or want different hours to adapt as they raise a family, but the research found that women's careers were more notably affected.
Some companies are looking to tackle this, with the rollout of returnships to support those looking to come back to work after a break, and most respondents said they felt there would be greater gender equality if more return to work programmes were introduced.
Yvonne Smyth, head of diversity at Hays UK & Ireland, said:
For those returning to work after a career break, employers should look to improve the transition process so they feel they have the opportunities to progress their careers, should they wish to. For example, our report found the majority agree that structured return to work programmes will help towards bridging the gender gap, and encourage more people back into work.
Encouraging equality when returning to work can start before parental leave begins by improving communication to make it more culturally acceptable for parents to split their leave, or take flexible working upon return, thereby helping both men and women.
Negative associations also linger with regards to flexible working. The report found that while many find it important, people are often reluctant to take it up. Over three-quarters of women said choosing to work flexibly will limit their career, while 65 per cent of men shared a similar sentiment.
Last week, official statistics found that the UK's gender pay gap had fallen to the lowest since records began, though still stood at 9.1 per cent.
And this weekend, the Prime Minister said more firms should publish details of their gender pay gap, in order to improve equality in the workplace.
Employers with more than 250 employees will be required to publish their data on gender pay and bonuses by April 2018, with May calling on smaller firms to follow suit.
So far though, businesses have been slow to volunteer the information, with 180 employers publishing the data, though thousands will ultimately need to by the April deadline.