women, employment patterns

women, employment patterns
   There have been significant increases in the proportion of women who work. Data from the Labour Force Survey indicates that, in 1961, women made up 32.3 percent of the labour force; in 1981 they made up 39.5 percent, and in 1993 they made up 44.4 percent. This significant rise in women working has been mainly due to the increasing numbers of married women in employment. However, women are also overrepresented in parttime work. In 1970, women working full-time earned 63 percent of the average male full-time wage. This figure increased to 76 percent in 1977. There was little further increase until the early 1990s when this figure rose to 79 percent (Equal Opportunities Commission 1994). Whether the legislation of the 1970s (Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act) has had any significant impact on women’s position in the labour market has been questioned, as there are still considerable differences between the average pay of men and women.
   Although women do make up an increasing proportion of the labour force, they are not equally represented throughout the occupational structure. This is due in part to horizontal segregation (men and women doing different types of jobs) but also in part to vertical segregation (men having higher paid jobs, in more advanced positions than women). The Labour Force Survey data (1993) indicates women are considerably more likely than men to work in hotels and catering, education and the health service. Men are more likely to work in agriculture, forestry and fishing, as well as in construction and transport. Employment in banking and finance is more evenly balanced. Men are more likely to dominate most areas of management and higher status professions such as medicine, whereas women are more likely to be in lower paid, lower status professions such as teaching and nursing. Clerical and secretarial work is overwhelmingly carried out by women. Furthermore, few women occupy high positions in society; in 1988 women made up only 6 percent of government ministers and the number of women in parliament amounted to only 6 percent of MPs.
   See also: women in business
   Further reading
    Equal Opportunities Commission (1994) Some Facts About Women, based on New Earnings Survey and Labour Force Survey.
    Labour Force Survey (1993, 1994), Department of Employment.
   KALWANT BHOPAL

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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