More women working but 50% are part-time

29 September 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The last 30 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of women working in the UK, but today, almost half of those jobs are only part-time, whereas just one in six part-time posts are filled by men.

According to an updated Focus on Gender report, published by the Office of National Statistics, in March of this year an almost equal number of jobs were filled by men and women, about 12.6 million each, marking a vast improvement on 1985 when two million more jobs were filled by men than by women.

Since 1971, gender equality in terms of employment rates has been steadily improving, but, despite this progress, they still remain higher for men, with a current employment rate of 79 per cent, compared to 70 per cent for women.

Children play a large role in widening the gender gap when it comes to part-time employment levels, as 38 per cent of women with dependant children work part-time, while just four per cent of men with dependent children work part-time.

Women without any children are more likely to be in employment, the report found, with 73 per cent of women without dependent children having jobs compared to 68 per cent of those who do.

Promisingly, the difference in pay between men and women has also improved in recent years, narrowing to 12.6 per cent in 2007, from 12.8 per cent in 2006. The average hourly rate went up 2.8 per cent to £11.96 an hour for men, but the rate for women rose by a larger percentage – a 3.1 per cent increase to £10.46.

However, while average hourly rates provide a useful point of reference, they do not indicate any difference in payment rates for comparable jobs, and they are also affected by the different work patterns of men and women, such as varying occupations.

When they're not at work, both men and women favour watching TV in their spare time, with more than 80 per cent of both genders spending more time in front of the telly than spending time with friends and family.

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