Progress for women at work ‘has stalled’ in UK

Women in the UK are less likely to be in work, experience lower job security and greater pay inequality than their counterparts in other developed countries, according to a report from Pwc.

Its Women in Work Index, shows that the UK was ranked in 18th position out of a sample of 27 OECD countries in 2011 on key indicators of female economic empowerment:

the equality of earnings with men [the gender pay gap is 18.4%];

the proportion of women in work both in absolute terms and relative to men [70.4% compared to 82.7% for men];

the female unemployment rate [7.2%];

the proportion of women in full-time employment [60.7%].

The research reveals that the UK has made improvements on the majority of the indicators since 2000, but this progress has been slower than other countries and has stalled since the beginning of the credit crunch in 2007. This has pushed the UK down to 18th position in the Women in Work Index in 2011, from 13th in 2000 and 14th in 2007.

The Nordic countries lead the Index, with Norway in pole position, followed by Sweden and Denmark. These three countries have consistently occupied the top 3 positions in 2000, 2007 and 2011. Finland was in fifth place in 2011, just behind New Zealand in fourth. Norway’s gender pay gap is 8.1%; its female labour force participation is 75.8% compared with 80.1% for men; its female unemployment rate is 3.1% and the proportion of women in full-time employment is 70%.

Yong Jing Teow, author of the report and economist, says: “It is worrying that the UK’s progress in encouraging more women into work and closing the gender pay gap has all but ground to a halt since the recession hit. While most other OECD countries have continued to move ahead, our progress appears to have stalled.”

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