The gender pay gap will persist in Wales due to the continued gendering of occupations and the restricted working patterns available for women, according to Dr Alison Parken, Senior Research Fellow and Project Director for WAVE project ‘Women Adding Value to the Economy’ at Cardiff University
Women Adding Value to the Economy (WAVE) is a partnership of activity involving Cardiff University, the University of South Wales, and The Women’s Workshop Project @BAWSO. The project is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Welsh Government.
The aim of WAVE is to understand and recommend how to ‘interrupt’ the ways in which gender pay inequalities are persistently reproduced through occupational segregation in employment and self-employment, the ways in which ‘women’s work’ is contracted and the operation of pay systems.
The WAVE project provides a raft of interventions based upon the expertise of each sponsoring organisation in relation to occupational segregation – in employment (Cardiff University), self- employment (University of South Wales), and training (The Women’s Workshop Project @ BAWSO).
In December last year, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) released from the Office of National Statistics showed that the gross median hourly gender pay gap had widened for the first time in five years and stood at 16.5% for all employees in Wales. The UK figure is higher at 19.5% but sadly this is not due to greater equality in Wales, rather Wales has less very high earning men in employment.
This whole economy figure also rolls up all sectors and occupations and obscures the contract variation between men and women
We have begun ‘mapping’ occupational segregation in Wales and find that men hold nearly two thirds (64%) of all the available full-time jobs in employment and self-employment, while women hold around 80% of all the available part time jobs. We find that men’s gross hourly and annual median full time earnings are higher than women’s in all of the nine major occupational groups (SOC 1 digit) – regardless of whether the group as a whole is gender balanced or gender segregated.
Our research found that women entering stereotypically female occupations such as administration, personal services and sales will find that at least 40% of all jobs within those sectors are offered on a part time basis, which leads us to question whether part-time working is directly a ‘choice’ for women.
The breakdown of men’s working patterns demonstrate that 90% of men work full-time while just 10% work in part-time roles, 57% of women work full-time and 43% work part-time. The proportion of women working part time has changed little in the UK since the 1970s (Manning 2010). Women’s median annual average earnings for part time work are £7,874 per annum.
Currently, 23% of women’s part time work takes place in top three occupations (management, professional, and assistant professional or technical occupations), compared with 6% of men’s. This may signal a break between low pay and part time working and more research will follow on this finding. However, currently 75% of all women’s part time work can be accounted for by administrative, personal service, sales and elementary occupations.
Male dominated occupations, such as the skilled trades tend to pay more hourly than female dominated occupations, and weekly and annual pay gaps are significantly widened by the high stock of part time jobs within female dominated sectors.
I believe the most striking finding will be job segregation by gender in an era when gender equality can be viewed as having been ‘done’! Men are 91% of all workers in skilled trades occupations, and of the 56 jobs listed in this occupational grouping, only 7 are gender balanced (on a 60/40 ratio) and only three are female dominated. The three in question are tailors, dressmakers and floral arrangers, of whom around 90% are women. The continued gender coding of jobs is apparent’, some jobs remain clearly associated with masculinity or femininity.
In the sphere of professional workers, an occupational grouping gender balanced overall at SOC 1 digit, we find that 75% of women are working in the education and health and social work sectors. If we add in the next highest concentration of women professionals by industry – those in public administration and defence – 84% of all women professionals in Wales are accounted for. This demonstrates a horizontal segregation by gender. Women in professional roles are hardly present at all in 8 of the 12 main industry classifications, including manufacturing, construction, transport, financial intermediation and agriculture.
The full report, Working Patterns in Wales: Gender Occupations and Pay is now available on the WAVE website: www.wavewales.co.uk . The data has also been used to create an online Equal Pay Barometer where hourly, weekly and annual median pay can be searched by occupation in various occupations.
Our hope is that young women entering the labour market will become aware of the low value assigned to many feminised jobs, that they may find it difficult to obtain full time work, and may even consider working in some of the higher paying occupations currently over associated with what men do.
* For all data – Source: ONS: Annual Population Survey, data obtained under ‘Special License’. Occupational information is for employed and self-employed jointly. Data pooled for 2004-2010. Pay figures for employees were adjusted to CPI (2012=100) before percentages were calculated. Reference: in Parken, A. Pocher, E., and Davies, R. ‘(2014) Working Patterns in Wales; Gender, Occupations and Pay’
Manning, A. (2010) ‘Forty Years After the Equal Pay Act, What Prospects for Gender Equality’, presentation to conference, Royal Statistical Society, London, 16th November 2010
Women Adding Value to the Economy (WAVE) has been created to address workplace and labour market practices, specifically gender earning disparities in employment and self-employment. The aim of the WAVE project is to contribute to tackling the causes of gender pay gaps in Wales. Our aim is to achieve this through both interrelated and targeted activities, working with employers, employees and self-employed women. WAVE is funded by the Convergence European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.