A few stats…
In April-June 2013 13.4 million women were in work, and 42% of these were part-time. Of the 15.3 million men in work 12% were in part-time work. The percentage of male part-timers is rising, while the percentage of women in such work has stayed stable at around the 42-45% mark for the last 30 years.
The average age for a woman to give birth to her first child has risen in the last ten years, now 28 (up from 26). Some connection with recent economic pressures is indicated. People with children work harder and longer. Men with children are more likely to be in work than men without.
Women’s low pay is structural, connected to the classification of women’s work as low or lower skill. Women make up 82% of occupations within caring and leisure, dominate administration and secretarial roles (77%) and make up just 10% of “skilled trades”, and 11% of machine operators in manufacturing.
The structure affects us all: female graduates are likely to work in slightly lower-skilled and lower-paid occupation groups than men. Men and women were as likely to be in unskilled jobs but their jobs are different: men are warehouse workers and labourers, women are cleaners and domestic workers. The percentage of women in lower skilled work (just over 20% for graduates and just over 60% for non-graduates) hardly changes between women with children and women without children.
Women’s employment has been and will continue to be affected by the cuts in the public sector. However women’s overall employment rate has now recovered to 2007 levels. Factors might be increasing pressure on lone parents to find work or lose benefits and the increase in the state pension age.
Employment rates have fallen for both young women and young men (16-23 year olds), mainly due to greater numbers remaining in full-time education. Employment rates are lower for some groups of women from some ethnic backgrounds.
(Office for National Statistics report: Women in the UK labour market. September 2013)