Leader comment: A low-paid, part-time job is not '˜women's work'

Try to picture who does the following jobs: secretary, cleaner, shop assistant.

Jamie Hepburn has warned of a 'talent bottleneck' facing women in the workplace

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.

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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.