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Gender jobs gap holding back women’s careers

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38% of men apply for roles based on flexibility

Recent research by skills organisation City & Guilds has suggested that outdated stereotypes and ways of working are holding women back from accessing high paying job opportunities in traditionally male dominated industries. The research found that women are shunning jobs in areas such as construction, energies and utilities and transport in favour of lower paying sectors.

As women are more likely than men to take on caring responsibilities throughout their working lives, the research pointed towards the need to create more flexibility and a better work/life balance to open the doors to jobs that seem inaccessible to many women. Women also need to be made aware of the range of opportunities available to them, by reaching young women as early as possible.

The Great Jobs research explored the attitudes of 10,000 UK working age people towards the essential jobs that keep the nation running found that when looking for a new job, 53% of working age women prioritise flexibility, compared to just 38% of male respondents, whilst 65% of women opt for a good work life balance compared to 57% of men.

Women are more likely to be interested in careers in typically female dominated industries – such as education (37%), health and social care (31%), and retail (43%). These jobs are more likely to be in the public sector, offering part-time roles with flexible hours. But they also typically offer lower salaries. In comparison, according to the research, very few women would consider working in essential jobs in traditionally male dominated industries like energies & utilities (14%), IT, communications and finance (23%), construction (9%) and transport and logistics (14%).

The research also revealed that across the 10 essential job sectors women were consistently more likely than men to say that they wouldn’t consider a job because they ‘don’t have the relevant skills, experience or qualifications.’ This serves to highlight the well-known gender confidence gap when it comes to job applications, stemming from outdated gender stereotypes.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds, said: “We desperately need to consider how we can make a wider variety of jobs more accessible and attractive to women by introducing more flexibility for employees and ensuring that women realise that careers in male dominated sectors could be a good fit for them. This will be pivotal to opening up new career opportunities, but it will also create a more diverse, equal and productive workforce – and help employers fill critical skills gaps. We also need to offer better careers advice and guidance to girls from primary school age onwards and give better access to role models of women working in male dominated careers.”

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