14/06/2012 19:45 BST | Updated 14/08/2012 06:12 BST

Women Need to 'Reclaim' Part Time Work

Given that 72% of people in the UK still think that "you cannot work a senior career on a part time basis" it's perhaps not surprising that people who do often keep the fact from their colleagues. Furthermore, many women who hold down senior part time roles would never use the word "part time" when describing how they work, according to a new report called the Part Time Paradox.

The number who keep 'part time' out of their job title rises to 67% among those who earn £75,000 or more.

The fact that so many people keep their part time status secret and that one in seven respondents said they let colleagues assume they work full time hours is partly a reflection of negative attitudes towards part time work, says Karen Mattison MBE, founder of part time recruitment organisation Timewise, which published the report.

"The stereotype of 'part time means low skilled, unreliable' still exists, as does the view that you can't do a senior role part time, says Mattison, who has launched a search for the Top 50 Part Time leaders. "The perception that part time 'can only work' for lower skilled persists, because employers don't see examples that show otherwise. This is what we want to challenge."

Negative views about part time work persist despite the fact that 650,000 people in the UK hold down senior roles but work less than five days a week - that's about one in 10 of all part time employees working in jobs such as marketing managers, finance directors and chief executives.

Among the respondents, 41% felt there were negative stereotype surrounding the words

'part time' and nearly a quarter worry about being unfairly labelled uncommitted with nearly one in 10 fear it could affect their chance of promotion.

Despite this the majority of the respondents said they thought they were carrying out their work successfully and that there were benefits to the employer allowing them to work part time.

When it comes to being ahead of the game as far as offering senior part time jobs, the voluntary and public sector, IT, creative industries and services sectors had the most vacancies and there were more jobs on offer for people living in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool.

The Top 50 list will be judged by Steve Varley, Ernst and Young's managing partner for the UK and Ireland and Emma de Vita of Management Today magazine and Mattison, who hopes that it will help create a more positive attitude towards part time work.

"We need to lead by example, there's no doubt about it," she says. "Importantly, I think we need to reclaim the words 'part time' rather than talk about 'flexible' working, which can mean a range of things. Part time should mean: 'I'm in the office, less than five days a week. But my role and commitment here, are solid'."

If you want to nominate a part time worker, go to the Timewise website.