Try to picture who does the following jobs: secretary, cleaner, shop assistant.
They are all usually low-paid and often part-time sources of employment and, for many people, they are jobs that are associated with a particular half of the population, women. However, there was a perception that this situation was gradually changing, that the idea of “women’s work” was nothing more than a remnant of attitudes from the last century.
READ MORE: How Scotland is tackling the gender agenda
So it is a bit of a shock to learn that the number of women in part-time jobs rose by 12,000 last year, while the number of men in part-time jobs fell. The number of women in full-time jobs fell by 4,000, while the same figure for men rose by 6,000.
The success of any economy is based to a large degree on the skills of its people. If women are being shunted into low-paid part-time work simply on the basis of their gender, that is a potential tragedy for them, as they miss out on what could have been a more rewarding career, but it is also an inefficient use of Scotland’s human resources.
And, particularly in these troubled economic times, it is a mistake we may come to regret.