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employee relations gender equality within the uk labour market

executive summary
The purpose of the following report is to expand on the problems and challenges faced by women within the UK labour market. Historically women have been subordinate to men, however due to advancements in legislation and a change in social attitudes & views women are being increasingly viewed as equal to their male counterparts. Research into equality trends has found the equality gap is closing, however a gap still remains. This report focuses on why an inequality gap exists and what variables, if any, may affect this. In addition the final section of this report suggests ways in which the equality gap can be reduced by the government and other actors. contents
Introduction;
What this report examines 4

The position of women;
Historical differences 4
Legislative changes & pay differences 5
Employment levels & managerial positions 6

Causes & influences;
Why differential treatment? 7
The divergence between pay & managerial positions 7
Education & aspirations affecting pay 8
Occupational Stereotypes 9

Action Required for Gender Equality:
Governmental 10
Other Actors 11

Conclusion
What has been determined? 11

References 12, 13

Group Log 14, 15

introduction what this report examines
We have been appointed, as academic consultants, by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to draw up the following report relating to the challenges faced by women in the UK labour market. Equality is a key issue within the UK workforce. There are many Acts & government legislation aimed at bridging the equality gap which still seems to exist today. The aim of this report is to examine the historical trends which depicted the position women faced in employment, how these trends have changed over the past few decades, and the causes and influences that has resulted in where women stand within the UK labour market at present.

the position of women

historical differences
Within pre-industrial Britain women’s work was entirely separate from men’s work. Women’s principle assignment was domestic labour within the house – e.g. spinning yarn, preserving food, tending the garden, & caring for small animals& children, men on the other hand were concerned with the heavy work, managing finances, ploughing fields, buying provisions for his family, & selling crops. Women were subordinate to their husbands. Rosen (1989) stated that ‘despite the self-evident importance of the work done at home, the role of the wife was distinctly secondary to that of the husband. Not until the advent of industrialisation did the status of women begin to undergo significant & enduring empowerment.’ This was not just apparent with the UK labour market as Rosen (1989)(2) points out ‘Most pre-industrial societies enforced male dominance: their cultures legitimated it and their sex roles necessarily revolved around it.’
Only after the British industrial revolution women began to work in mills & workshops to pursue the prospect of earning steady wages. By entering the labour market for the first time women had broken down a considerable barrier within the struggle for equality. “Feminist ideology & political action, after decades of effort, finally swept away many of the barriers that men had erected against women, allowing them at last to take their rightful place in the labour market”. Rosen (1989)(3) For example legislation & government Acts came into force to curb the differential labour views of men & women. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 made it possible for women to enter many professions that they had previously been prohibited from. Just after the turn of the century it appeared gender inequality was beginning to be eradicated, on the contrary Rosen (1989) found that in 1861 about 25% of British women worked, but nevertheless in 1921 the figure was still 25% (Rosen 1989)(4). These findings would suggest that despite legislative advances & women progressing into the labour market, there still was a considerable amount of inequality preventing the majority of women from working. It would appear that Industrialisation did not immediately end the dominance of domestic service in the hierarchy of jobs performed by women.

legislative changes & pay differences
The UK law has, within the past few decades, tried to extinguish forms of discrimination, with the desired result of equality. Legislation has been implemented to curtail possible discrimination within the work place. “Policies have the general aim of achieving social inclusion by prohibiting what is most often overt prejudice, & direct discrimination.” (Hakim 2004) The most significant development was the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 which was aimed at specifically bridging gender differences within the labour market. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 “applies to both men and women and makes sex discrimination unlawful in employment and vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services and premises.” (Women and Equality Unit 2007) The Act is existent to eradicate both direct & indirect discrimination within the work place however not all discrimination has been eliminated. There are still countless tribunal cases brought forward regarding differential treatment between genders within the workplace. A major discriminative concern is the differentiation between male & female pay. The Equal Pay Act was conceded in 1970, when the pay gap between men and women stood at 37%. - By the time the Act came into force in 1975, it had closed to 30%. (Women and Equality Unit 2007)(2) Despite the existence of equal pay legislation the continuation of income irregularity between men & women is extensively acknowledged. Women in the UK still achieve a meagre “79.5% of the hourly earnings received by men.” (Bratton & Gold 1999) Although designed to eradicate inequalities, UK legislation has failed to fully extinguish differentials within the workplace.

employment levels & managerial positions The numbers of women in employment has soared dramatically since they first began to enter the labour market after the industrial revolution. In 1921 25% of British women worked Rosen (1989)(4) – a significantly lesser amount than the present day. In 2005 it was found 7 out of 10 women aged 16-59years were in employment, compared to 8 out of 10 men aged 16-64years. (Equal Opportunities Commission 2005a) This shows how trends and attitudes within the past few decades have altered and become more acceptable of working women. It appears modern day women are more devoted to working as more participate in, and stay for longer in employment, for example, in 1973 47% of women with dependent children were in employment, this figure increase to 66% by 2004. (Equal Opportunities Commission 2005a) The higher employability of women may be a direct result of the legislature; however social attitudes & educational differences may also may a significant part. There has been an amplification of women in higher education. - 67% of students in higher education were male in 1970/1, whereas in 2000 57% of students were female. (Equal Opportunities Commission 2005a) An increase in education may have had a direct impact on employability of women, as more qualifications ultimately create more employment possibilities. An increase of career possibilities via greater education may explain why additional women are in managerial roles. Previously in 1974 only 1.8% of mangers were women & only 0.6% were directors, however this has increased to 33.1% of female managers & 14.4% female directors in 2005. (Equal Opportunities Commission 2005a)

causes and influences
WHY DIFFERENTIAL treatment?
Do men work harder than women? Are women educated to a lesser standard? Do women have fewer employment experiences? Many questions revolve around inequality. Sorensen (1989) depicts there are “many variables, including work experience, job tenure, part-time work, years of education, & qualifications” that can result in differential treatment which are discussed further below.

the divergence between pay & managerial positions
“Family responsibilities are a key factor in men being more likely & women less likely to get promoted”. (Budig 2002) Because of this men have an advance in their careers whilst women take time away from work. Men are more likely to contribute longer hours, more continuous employment & the longer tenures with an employer that lead to the top jobs. Hinze (2000) concluded that even where males & females are “almost equally well-qualified, a substantial pay gap emerges because men concentrate on their careers, while women concentrate on their family work.” Men have the opportunity to build up more skills & experiences in the time women are away from work, thus excelling up the career ladder & gaining higher earnings. A women who has taken time out, known as ‘fractured spells of employment’, (McColgan 1997) will have less labour market experience than a man of the same age & will, therefore, be a less valuable employee.

However it is reported that there has been a growth in the number of childminders and nurseries which implies that some women are choosing to remain in full-time employment rather than withdrawing from the labour force (Hollinshead et al 2003). This could be one factor which has lead to a 50% increase in the amount of women executive directors in the FTSE 100 companies as stated in the People Management Report 2002 (Torrington et al 2005). This illustrates that the current position of women in managerial positions is increasing however this is still disproportional to the number of men, as the percentage of women executive directors are only 15%.

education & aspirations affecting pay
Some studies report that secondary school subjects affect adult earnings. Dolton & Vignoles 2002 found that mathematics (a male dominated subject) “produced a notable mark-up to earnings in later employment.” In 1989 the National Curriculum provided equal access to all subjects for both genders (Hollinshead et al 2003). In the hope that as these changes fed through the system over time there would be a decrease, in the view by human capitalists, that women are less productive than men. Due to the duty that they owe to their family which hinders their development of skills and experience gained through education and training (Hollinshead et al 2003). Additionally as more women than ever are progressing to higher education and are surpassing their male counterparts, education can’t be fully culpable for the current position of women in employment.

The associations that females make regarding their male counterparts may play a key role, in explaining the current position of women in UK employment. This is supported by Goldberg (1968) who showed that “female undergraduates in the USA regarded men as more competent & able than women, even for identical performances, especially if they worked in typical male occupations.” However it is important to note that this study was carried outside the UK therefore the accuracy of this can be brought into question, as cultural & traditional norms may affect views differently. If taken as accurate this can then affect pay rates which is an important factor accounting for the current position of women in employment. This is because women may feel they are less worthy and therefore less likely to pursue a rise in income. This is supported by Chauvin & Ash 1994 who found women tend to choose jobs with “fixed or predictable earnings, whereas men more often chose jobs with a substantial element of pay contingent on performance, consistent with research showing sex differences in risk aversion”. As this study was carried out in 1994 this can be treated with greater accuracy than Goldberg’s study in 1968, as beliefs and attitudes are consistently changing regarding the issue of gender equality.

Occupational stereortypes
This is believed to be a key issue influencing the previous and more importantly the current position of women in employment. Thair and Risden suggest that women remain in three occupational groups, these being clerical and secretarial and personal and protective services i.e. catering. These jobs are assumed to be part-time carrying with it poor pay (Torrington et al 2005). It is of the view that until these stereotypes are removed, there will never be full equality between men and women. However companies such as Rank Xerox focussed on recruiting women in traditional male jobs and vice versa (Hollinshead et al 2003). This was seen as giving them a source of competitive advantage, by destroying the stereotypes attached to a specific job. Despite this Hakim concluded that “only an increase in full-time employment is likely to have a wider impact on women’s opportunities at work” (Torrington et al 2005). Therefore this is still influencing the equality gap women face in employment, ever be it improving.

action required for gender equality

governmental
The role of the government is believed to be a key driver in the attempt to achieve gender equality. It proposes to do this by firstly introducing the Work and Families Act 2006 which will come into force in April 2007. This will extend the flexible working law to enable women to juggle work and caring responsibilities. This is vital in order to promote gender equality because it is a conceivable fact many women have family responsibilities. Therefore the only way progress is going to be made is if this is accepted and practices are put in place to ensure that women are not disadvantaged because of this matter. This is supported by the government’s commitment to enable parents “affordable and accessible childcare” (Women and Equality unit 2006).

It has also recognised that there is ‘occupational segregation whereby “women 's employment is highly concentrated in certain occupations and those occupations which are female-dominated are often the lowest paid” (Women and Equality unit 2006).This is a vital area that needs to be tackled in order to promote gender equality. The government has recognised this and has produced an action plan in order to work towards achieving this.

The government has also recognised the fact that they can impose a duty on the public sector to promote gender equality which to somewhat they have control over. If this can be achieved then it can only be hoped that this will be reflected into the private sector.

It has also been helped by the introduction of the Women and Equality Unit. Tony Blair introduced this in order for recommendations to be made, with regards to how this pay gap would be tackled. It is evident that the government is introducing steps not only to promote gender equality but to also tackle the problems faced. However even though they are the body with the most power and influence over this matter for it to be successful other actors also have to play their part in promoting gender equality.

Other Actors The Equal Opportunities Commission deal with creating a fair and equal practice for men and women. One of the ways the EOC are promoting gender equality is by developing a code of practice to help employers deliver equal pay. Along with this the EOC have provided kits dependant on the size of the business in order to help these entities complete an equal pay review (Equal Opportunities Commission). Overall it is apparent that both the government and other actors such as the EOC are putting procedures in place in order to achieve additional progress in the promotion of gender equality. However it will take both time and the need for the co-operation of both the public and private sectors, in order to evaluate whether these measures have been successful. However this doesn’t necessarily mean that these measures should stop there and should be continually developed to ensure that gender equality is achieved. conclusion what has been determined
It is apparent from this investigation that there is still gender inequality evident in the UK labour market. However through the introduction of the Equal Pay and the Sex Discrimination acts this situation has been improved although not eradicated. Two current examples of inequality being, the difference in pay between men and women and the asymmetrical representation of women within managerial positions.
Additionally for gender equality to be comprehensively achieved within the UK labour market it is vital that the government continue to drive forward their plans on this matter. As they have the underlying power to ensure that an equilibrium is achieved between men and women in the UK labour market, in every aspect of gender equality.

references
Bratton & Gold 1999: ‘Human Resource Management; theory & practice’, John Bratton & Jeffrey Gold, Palgrave, Second Edition, 1999, pg 265

Budig 2002: ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 80

Chauvin & Ash 1994: ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, by Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 82
Dolton & Vignoles 2002: ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 76
Equal Opportunities Commission (2005a): Then and Now: 30 Years of the Sex Discrimination Act, London: Equal Opportunities Commission. Available at www.eoc.org.uk/pdf/then_and_now_factsheet.pdf [Accessed on 3.01.07]

Equal Opportunities Commission (2006): How to put Equality into Practice. Available from: http://www.eoc.org.uk/Default.aspx?page=15386 [Accessed on 23.01.07]
Goldberg 1968: ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 74
Hakim, C. (1993): ‘Work, Employment and Society’, pp. 121-33 in Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall.

Hakim 2004: ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 88

Hinze (2000): ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 80

Hollinshead, G. Nicholls, P. and Tailby S. (2003): Employee Relations , London: Pearson Education Limited.

McColgan 1997: ‘Just wages for women’, Aileen McColgan, Oxford Monographs on labour law, Clarendon press Oxford, 1997, pg 19

Rosen 1989: ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, Pg 21

Rosen (1989)(2): ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, pg 20

Rosen (1989)(3): ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, Pg 22

Rosen (1989)(4): ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, Pg 23

Sorensen (1989): ‘Key issues in women’s work; female diversity & the polarisation of women’s employment’, Catherine Hakim, Glasshouse Press, second edition, 2004, pg 78

Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall.

Thair, T. and Risden, A. (1999): ‘Labour Market Trends’, March, in Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall.

Women and Equality Unit 2007: ‘Equal Pay Act’, London: Department of Trade & Industry, 2007, available from: http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/legislation/discrimination_act.htm. [Accessed on 17.01.07]

Women and Equality Unit 2007(2): ‘Equal Pay Act’, London: Department of Trade & Industry, 2007, available from: http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/legislation/equal_pay_act.htm. [Accessed on 3.1.07]

Women and Equality Unit (2007): Tackling the Gender Pay Gap Fact Sheet. Available from: http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/publications/genpaygapfacts_oct2006.doc. [Accessed on 21.01.07]
Zabalza & Tzannatos 1975: ‘Just wages for women’, Aileen McColgan, Oxford Monographs on labour law, Clarendon press Oxford, 1997, pg 232

References: references Bratton & Gold 1999: ‘Human Resource Management; theory & practice’, John Bratton & Jeffrey Gold, Palgrave, Second Edition, 1999, pg 265 Hakim, C. (1993): ‘Work, Employment and Society’, pp. 121-33 in Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall. Hollinshead, G. Nicholls, P. and Tailby S. (2003): Employee Relations , London: Pearson Education Limited. McColgan 1997: ‘Just wages for women’, Aileen McColgan, Oxford Monographs on labour law, Clarendon press Oxford, 1997, pg 19 Rosen 1989: ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, Pg 21 Rosen (1989)(2): ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, pg 20 Rosen (1989)(3): ‘Women, work & achievement; The endless revolution’, Bernard Carl Rosen, Macmillan Press LTD, 1989, Pg 22 Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall. Thair, T. and Risden, A. (1999): ‘Labour Market Trends’, March, in Torrington, D. Hall, L. and Taylor S (2005) Human Resource Management 6TH Edition, FT Prentice Hall.

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