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During the twentieth century there has been evidence to show a steady increase in the number of women in paid employment, especially in part-time work. After the Second World War, Britian saw many married women start some form of employment other than their work as a mother or wife. This has steadily increased over the past 58 years to the point at which men and women are normally in paid employment for the majority of the years for which they are employable. However although men and women both tend to work for the same amount of time in their working lives many areas remain with huge inequalities.

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These areas include the amount of hours worked in a week, the occupations in which men and women are employed, the amount of pay recieved for employment and promotion opportunities. Looking at these points one by one in more depth will help answer the question asked. The amount of hours worked in a week by men and woman do vary. Women tend to work more part-time hours of between 1 – 30 hours a week compared to men, who form a very small sector of the part-time work. Men on the otherhand tend to work for longer hours, between 40-60 hours a week compared to very few

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women. Both genders however tend to even out between 30-40 hours a weeks. As the majority of people normally work 30-40 hours in a week, this illustrates that men and women in full time work do experience similar working hours to one another. Examining occupation and the segregation of gender in employment, in 2002 18% of males held managers and senior officials posts compared to 9% (half) of women. In fact in nearly every occupation there is a hugh difference between the number of male and females involved in that profession.

The only professions in which there seems to be an even female to male ratio are professional occupations (males 13% females 10%) , associate professionals and technicals (male 14% female 14%) and elementary occupations (male 13% female13%). All other occupations show massive differences in gender. In the skilled trades 16% of males take up this occupation compared to 2 % of females. Segmented labour markets mean women are concentrated in certain occupations (horizontal segmentation ) and at the lower level within that occupation (vertical segmentation).

Looking at pay received by workers again this will vary depending on gender. In 1999 figures from the Department of Employment showed that amoung full time non manual employees in the UK women on average earned i?? 179. 00 less per week than men did. As manual workers females received an average of i?? 113. 00 less per week than their male collegues. There appears no justifiable explanation as to why females and males are paid differently for doing the same job, but this definitely remains a big reason as to why men and womens experiences at work will differ.

Finally looking at promotion opportunities it could be argued that if women are paid less to do the same job, then surely a woman would be more preferable to promote as she would cost less to employ. This is not the case. “Overall, the evidence with respect to the opportunities for promotion for women is that women are less likely to be promoted than men and indeed are concentated in jobs that are less likely to lead to high remuneration and promotion. ” (Crompton and Sanderson 1990; Evetts, 1994).

Women experience both horixontal and vertical labour market segmentation as previously discussed. Furthermore, when an occupation seems to be seen as ‘a female one’ it will decline in job status. However men will still continue to dominate the senior posts. Evaluating these points has helped me form the conclusion that although working conditions for men and women have grown similar over the past 30 years compared to how they once were, men and women still firmly face diffences in the employment market.

Although women’s circumstances in employment have started to improve there is still a long way to go and unless the issues discussed above are dealt with then the gendered division in labour will continue preventing any fundemental change in repect of work. Finally in conclusion even if gender inequality was iradicated we would still be faced with problems in areas of age, ethnicity and class, therefore it may be better to address all the areas collectivly rather than individually.


Abbott Pamela & Wallace Claire. 1997 An introduction to Sociology – Feminist perspectives. Routledge

Bilton Tony, Bonnett Kevin, Jones Pip, Lawson Tony, Skinner David, Stanworth Michelle & Webster Andrew. 2002 Introductory Sociology. Palgrave Macmillan

Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics.

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