08/03/2012 12:09 GMT | Updated 25/06/2012 11:49 BST

Female Bosses ‘Reluctant' To Hire Women With Children Or Potential Mothers

Women are their own worst enemies when it comes to business, a new study has revealed after discovering female bosses are reluctant to employ women with children or those who might want to start a family.

The survey, by office operator Business Environment, found that despite women having a tougher time climbing the career ladder than men, women do little to support other women.

A quarter of women bosses admitted that they would reluctantly hire another woman who has children or is of a childbearing age. A further three quarters (72%) revealed that they had judged a female colleague on the way she dresses compared to 60% of men.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard, told HuffPost Lifestyle: "Regardless of whether your boss is a man or a woman, firms with family friendly policies have been shown to perform better - with higher staff retention and less need to train new starters.

"By refusing to hire women of childbearing age, women bosses are missing out on a huge pool of talent.

"Recent research shows families spend an average of £474 a week and over 80% of buying decisions are made by mums. If you alienate mums from your workforce, you lose the insight they bring.

"Saving on maternity pay may be a short term gain, but it's a very long loss."

The study also discovered that female bosses admire male entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, more than successful female businesswomen like Karen Brady.

Despite women in business judging other women, they also put more pressure on themselves, with three quarters admitting they feel they need to work longer hours to move up the career ladder and 64% regularly work through illness.

A further 57% of businesswomen admitted to feeling the pressure in male dominated environments, making them compelled to ‘power dress’ in the office to get ahead. More than a third (36%) admitted to wearing more makeup to the office.

The results of the survey are disappointing for women, David Saul, managing director of Business Environment said in a statement: “It seems that women are just as competitive as men when it comes to getting ahead in their careers and they appear to hire and fire according to what’s best for business bottom-line, regardless of gender.

”But it’s a shame that women aren’t supporting each other more in this day and age. They’ve made great strides over the last century to gain equality within the workplace so to hear that they are not helping each advance their careers really detracts from those efforts.”