A PwC report shows that women are much more likely to say the pandemic has worsened their employment prospects than men and calls for a fair and green recovery.
Women are significantly more likely than men to say the pandemic worsened their employment opportunities, according to a survey by PwC which calls for gender equality to be part of the UK’s green and fair recovery.
The research based on a survey of 4,000 people in the UK finds that nearly one in four unemployed women [38%] say the pandemic has worsened their access to employment opportunities compared to 23% of unemployed men.
The report, Targeting Gender Equality, sets out five recommendations that require close collaboration among employers and Government. These include the need for gender equality to be a specific focus within green economy plans. 63% of survey respondents support investment in green jobs, but just one fifth (20%) of women believe they have the skills they need to work in a green job, compared to nearly one third (31%) of men. Only 21% of women say they are aware of the opportunities for green jobs.
The report also calls for targeted careers support for women to access traditional male-dominated industries and more affordable childcare and shared parental leave as well as more hybrid working. Three quarters of women want more flexibility on working hours from their employer and greater support on returning from maternity leave.
And it recommends measures to boost the confidence of women who are out of work and greater investment in careers advice at school. Around one third (32%) of unemployed women say a lack of confidence is the primary barrier for returning to work and only one in four (27%) women say the careers advice they received at school helped inform their career decisions.
When it comes to young people aged between 18 and 24, the report shows women are more likely to report their job security has got worse (23%) than men of the same age (17%). One in five women with children under 18 say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their career progression, with 16% of male parents reporting the same.
Women are also more likely to report worsened health, both mental and physical. Young women – those aged between 18 and 24 – are among the most affected, with almost half (43%) saying their mental wellbeing worsened during the pandemic compared to just under one third (31%) of men of the same age.
Rachel Taylor, Economic and Business Affairs Leader at PwC, said: “The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated what were already deep-rooted gender inequalities in the labour market. This research points to a lack of confidence among women who find themselves out of work, and comparatively fewer opportunities for young women starting out on their careers. This is compounded by the physical and mental health burden faced by many of the women surveyed.
“As we look to the future, we must take the opportunity to address these inequalities and this should be front of mind when planning the recovery. With the continuing momentum of the green revolution and the resulting emergence of new industries, policy-makers and businesses must work side-by-side in bringing about a level playing field which will allow women to play a leading role in shaping the future.”