A quarter of women feel that a lack of confidence is their biggest stumbling block when returning to work, according to a new study.

The Confidence Gap Report, conducted by Tech Pixies, looks into what the impact of taking a career break has on women’s confidence, career prospects, job satisfaction and earning power.

The report found that nearly half of the women surveyed said they felt a career break had damaged their career. The research also found that 45 per cent of women said they felt less anxious at work if they could lose their self-doubt about their ability; and 33 per cent of women feel anxious that colleagues are more up to speed with digital skills than they are.

Taking a career break has a negative impact on a woman’s take-home pay too with 42 per cent of women claiming they earn less now compared to when they went on a career break, including 22 per cent earnt up to £10,000 less a year, 16 per cent earning between £10,000 to £20,000 less a year after their career break and four per cent earning over £20,000 less a year.

Overall, this has left women returners feeling financially insecure and worried for their future with 37 per cent of women saying they feel less confident about their long-term earning potential.

The research also found that women are also coming up against issues once they return to work – 29 per cent of women felt side-lined or undervalued; ten per cent said they were doing work that they would describe as ‘beneath their ability’; and 47 per cent of women described their current work simply as ‘a means to an end’.

Speaking about the findings, Joy Foster, Founder of TechPixies, said, “It’s very clear from our research that more needs to be done to ensure that women are not negatively affected by taking a career break.”

“As our Confidence Gap Report details, a big part of this is building up women’s confidence and digital skills ahead of their return to work.”

“And this is exactly what TechPixies sets out to do, enabling women to return to the workplace with confidence and practical skills that will give them more job satisfaction, better pay and appropriate recognition in the workplace.”

“With our report we’re encouraging women to upskill themselves, which will in turn give them confidence so that they can go on to have fulfilling and stimulating careers following a career break, something we can all aspire to have in the 21st century thanks to the technology available to us all.”