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Putting Women on the research agenda - Why we did the Women and Employment Survey. Ceridwen Roberts Department of Social Policy and Social Work University.

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Presentation on theme: "Putting Women on the research agenda - Why we did the Women and Employment Survey. Ceridwen Roberts Department of Social Policy and Social Work University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Putting Women on the research agenda - Why we did the Women and Employment Survey. Ceridwen Roberts Department of Social Policy and Social Work University of Oxford Presentation to Women and Employment Survey 25th anniversary conference 5th December 2005 DTI

2 Context The position of women in the labour market The legislative background The research background Government research on womens employment The policy context Reasons for the Survey The Survey What it covered Findings

3 Womens labour market position in 1978/9 A significant rise in womens economic activity from 30.8% in 1951 to about 40% in 1980 Married women were having shorter periods out of the labour market after childrearing Most returned part time Most growth in employment had been in part time jobs- over 1,500,000 between from mid 60s to end of 70s BUT By late 70s this increase had slowed down Womens registered unemployment was increasing faster than mens from 1.2% in early 70s to 5.2% by 1980 Womens pay and conditions at work were markedly less good than mens – NM womens earnings rose from 49.7% of mens in 1970 to 60.5% in 1975 Manual womens earnings rose from 50% to 61.2% of mens 1970-1978

4 The legislative background in 78/79 Equal Pay First raised as a demand in 1888, The Equal Pay Act was finally passed in 1970 with full implementation by the end of 1975 Sex discrimination Sex Discrimination Act passed and came into effect in 1975 covering mainly discrimination in employment and some goods and services Maternity Provisions of the Employment Protection Act 1975 Maternity pay and job reinstatement rights were given to women who met the qualifying conditions

5 The research background Interest in and research on all aspects of womens lives developed enormously in the late 60s and through the 70s. Its main focus was the relationship between home and work and how womens position in society and the labour market was influenced by and shaped their reproductive role and the domestic division of labour Both academic and more campaigning studies described and explained the consequent inequality in the labour market women faced But many of the studies were small scale and unrepresentative of women as a whole

6 Government research on womens employment Two previous surveys of womens employment Women at Work- Thomas 1944 A Survey of Womens Employment – Hunt 1968 A Survey of Womens Employment – Hunt 1968 DE Manpower Papers 9-12 [1974- 1975] Management Attitudes and Practices towards women at work – Hunt 1975 Occupational segregation- Hakim 1979 Equal Pay and Opportunities –Snell et al 1981 Others studies increasingly included women Additionally The establishment of a Social Science Branch within the Department of Employment from the mid 1970s A programme of research on women in the labour market built on these and began in 1978

7 The Policy context Enormous interest in the whole area of equal pay and opportunities Political and policy concern about rising female registered unemployment Concern that registered unemployment was a crude indicator of unemployment for women Awareness of the undercount of womens economic activity And limitations of official statistics and classifications for women

8 Reasons for the Survey No existing data sources focussed on women directly or looked at why and when women take paid work, with what consequences and how this relates to the wider issue of men and womens roles in the family To understand the extent, meaning and consequences of female unemployment we needed to have a representative sample of all unemployed women and compare them with other women We also needed to have details of womens lifetime moves in and out of the labour market so the consequences of not having a paid job could be better understood So a national survey became inevitable

9 The Survey Nationally representative survey of women of working age ie 16-59 ; GB Achieved sample of 5588 women and 799 men –response rates of 83% and 81% respectively Face to face structured interviews- Cross sectional data and retrospective work histories Enormous amount of material was collected and some interviews were long

10 What it covered The survey explored all the factors which affect womens economic activity rates looked at womens occupations and occupational segregation analysed the hours women work and the length and pattern of working days and weeks; described the pay and conditions including TU membership, training and promotion opportunities explored working womens attitudes to work and their jobs

11 … and it … and it analysed the concept of unemployment for women and its extent and consequences looked at the interplay between domestic demands and employment, for both women and their husbands and for lone mothers outlined the lifetime patterns of womens movement in and out of employment identified lifetime job changes and occupational mobility considered how women looked for jobs and their job priorities and search strategies explored womens and their husbands views about womens roles at home and work and in society

12 Findings 1 Womens patterns and hours of work and childcare A 7 day, 24 hour grid identified when women worked The wide range of working hours were analysed by womens domestic situation and childcare arrangement. There was a clear association between the time of day women worked and the ages of their children; 38 % of mothers of a child under 5 worked in the evening Fathers were the most important source of childcare after mothers, followed by grandmothers. Paying for childcare was rare: 30% of pre-schoolers; 10% of schoolchildren - average weekly sum for both groups - £8.70.

13 Findings 2 Findings 2 Women as employees Women as employees Data collected on pay, holidays, sick-leave, training and promotion opportunities and presence of a TU. This was analysed by occupational status, level of occupational segregation, full or part time Heterogeneity of womens situation revealed; full time workers in white collar jobs also done by men enjoyed much better pay and conditions - were in the primary sector These women not only had better pay but were more likely to have training and promotion opportunites But the majority of women were in the secondary sector

14 Findings 3 Who was unemployed? About a third of women [35%] were not working A scale of attachment to the labour market was generated through comparing womens answers to several questions 5 groups of non-working women along a continuum; almost none never intended to work or look for work again though only 14% met the definition of unemployed Registered unemployed were scattered across all groups

15 Findings 4 Job changing and searching On average women worked for 4-5 employers over their life More women left employers to change jobs than for domestic reasons contrary to myths – about 60% But the reason for leaving the labour market might not remain the reason for staying out; Not all women who got a job looked for it – some were offered it. Domestic returners were often pulled back into part-time work this way While financial reasons for working were paramount, domestic returners were more likely to mention the sociability of work as a reason for returning

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