Women’s jobs are poorer paid, less flexible, more stressful, and offer fewer promotion opportunities than men’s, a large international study has found.
Researchers say that the results disprove the theory that women have voluntarily traded less high-powered jobs in order to have more flexibility for their responsibilities at home.
Professor Haya Stier, of Tel Aviv University, and Professor Meir Yaish, University of Haifa, analysed survey data on the working lives of 8,500 men and 9,000 women in 27 industrialised countries, including the UK.
In a paper published in the journal Work, Employment and Society they looked at how those surveyed responded to questions about their jobs, and found:
- When asked if they or their employer decided at what time they started and ended work, how they organised their schedule, and whether they took time off work, men scored 0.148 points (15%) higher.
- On a scale of 1-5, on average men gave answers that were 0.215 points higher (8%) than women’s when asked about their income and opportunities for promotion.
- On a scale of 1-5, on average men gave answers that were 0.159 points (5%) lower than women’s when asked about how stressful and exhausting the work was.
- Men gave answers that were 0.084 (2 %) points higher than women’s when asked about how interesting they found their work, how independently they could work and how much scope they had to improve their skills.
- Men gave answers that were 0.062 points (2%) lower than women’s when asked about job security.
Only in the area of physical condition did men score their work worse, saying it was more physically arduous and dangerous, by 0.275 points (8%).
“The findings show that women lag behind men on most dimensions of job quality,” say the researchers. “This result runs counter to the expectation that women’s occupations compensate for their low wages and limited opportunities for promotion by providing better employment conditions.
“The findings indicate that women enjoy hardly any advantage over men in the labour market. Women lag behind men on most employment dimensions: their jobs offer lower salaries and fewer opportunities for advancement, but also lower job security, worse job content, less time autonomy and worse emotional conditions.”
The research “does not support the claim that women enjoy a more relaxed and convenient work environment to compensate for their lack of achievement.”
However the researchers also found that the more women in a profession or trade the closer their working conditions came to men’s in most aspects of work.
1. The countries studied were: Australia, Belgium (Flanders), Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the USA.
2. The original data are from the 2005 ISSP module on work orientation. The ISSP is an internationally collaborative survey program with annual modules on a topic important for social science research.
3. The journal paper is entitled ‘Occupational segregation and gender inequality in job quality: a multi-level approach’ and appears online in the latest edition of the journal Work, Employment and Society, which is published by the British Sociological Association and SAGE.