Much as City firms have benefited significantly from developing innovative flexible working schemes to attract and retain talented staff, it strikes me that a solution that could go a long way in addressing GP recruitment issues is actually to encourage more flexible working, for both sexes, not to try and restrict it.
It's a well known fact we live in a 24/7 consumer culture. The rise of technology means that almost every aspect of our life has an expectation of immediacy, from our 24 hour news culture, to shops extending their opening hours, to smart phones giving us access to a wealth of information anywhere, at any time.
From the 30th June 2014 every employee was given the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment service. Before this, the right only applied to parents of children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child was disabled) and certain carers. This flexibility has offered more of us the chance to work from home, and avoid the daily commute.
Successful change requires trust. If you can prove to your boss that flexi-working will enable you to be equally, if not more productive, then not only is it possible to have her support you in a new way of working, but you can also inspire others to follow your lead and become a catalyst for much-needed corporate change.
Businesses that refuse reasonable flexible working time requests from loyal employees are cutting their own throats; this has always been the case, and new laws giving all workers the right to ask for altered hours change nothing. Any employer with half a brain will treat such a request the same this week as they would any time in the past. To do anything else would be idiocy - it's just common sense.
Lack of support can leave women "faced with the feeling like they're not enough at either home or work" and prone to dropping out, says Chivers. "These are women who know they can deliver great things at work and raise happy, normal kids if only their and their partners' employers would trust them enough to crack on in flexible fashion."
While employers can refuse the request if it is considered detrimental to business interests - for example, it may incur extra staff costs - the right to appeal is also built into the guidelines and feedback is mandatory, giving employees the opportunity to demonstrate why their request should be granted. If organised properly, flexible working hours CAN be good for business.
We wouldn't train for a marathon for 12 hours a day as we know it's not physically good for us, so why do we do this to our brains? With the majority of people spending more time at work than with their family and friends, it is important for a worker's mindset that the right balance is created between work and life.
It's not just that there is a 'moral case' for greater diversity in business. Capitalising on women's potential makes economic sense. Having more women on corporate boards has been shown to increase both the share price and the return on equity. It doesn't surprise me that the 2013 list of the world's most valuable brands showed companies with a greater than average proportion of female board members outperforms those with an all-male board. So why are women undervalued across the business spectrum?
It will not be a surprise to hear that the construction industry has some of the lowest numbers of women workers in any sector of the economy. With around 11% of the workforce, and as little as 1% of the manual trades, there is little concern in the industry and only modest attempts to change it. Do the low numbers of female workers in construction matter?