WOMEN in the UK are less likely to be in work, and experience lower job security and greater pay inequality than their counterparts in other developed countries, according to a study.
The UK was ranked 18th out of 27 OECD countries in 2011 on five indicators of female economic empowerment, such as equality of earnings with men, although improvements had been made over previous years, said the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Progress has been slower than other countries and has stalled since the beginning of the credit crunch in 2007, said the research, published on International Women’s Day. The report’s author, Yong Jing Teow, said: “It is worrying that the UK’s progress in encouraging more women into work and closing the gender pay gap has all but ground to a halt since the recession hit.
“Norway leads the pack when it comes to women’s economic empowerment due to its high rate of female participation in the labour force and a low gender pay gap.
“Women in the UK are struggling against a backdrop of rising female unemployment since 2007, above average pay inequality and fewer full-time employment opportunities.”
Women in business group everywoman launched a campaign encouraging women to spend an hour a week towards developing their career.
Another report, by the Chartered Management Institute, found that pay gaps, the wrong role models and lack of self-confidence are among the biggest challenges holding back female managers.
The organisation made a series of recommendations to women and firms, urging employers to measure the proportion of women in their workforce, including at senior levels, and to encourage mentoring opportunities for female managers.
Chief executive Ann Francke said: “The business case for more women in senior positions is clear. Research has shown having women at the top is good business sense: firms do better with diversity. Sadly, for many organisations, it seems that Wonder Woman is still worth less than Superman.”
Research among 4,000 UK businesses by workplace provider Regus showed that one in two employers believed working mothers boosted their company’s productivity but inflexibility in workplace attitudes and practices was said to be holding professional women back.
Celia Donne, global operations director at Regus, said: “The benefits of higher participation of women in the workforce are widely recognised, yet the workforce continues to lose able and trained workers with key skills and qualifications as women find the burden of childcare cannot be reconciled with working life.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said the government should be turning its attention to undoing the “enormous damage” caused to women’s lives since the coalition came into power.
“Women have borne the brunt of the government’s austerity measures: they’ve been hit hardest by recession, by benefit cuts and, thanks to ideology-driven attacks to our public services, have seen record unemployment,” said Mr Prentis.
Meanwhile, a 1911 census record deliberately spoilt by a suffragette in opposition to the patriarchal government of the day was being released to mark International Women’s Day.
Family history site Ancestry.co.uk said the record shows Rosina Mary Pott’s entry, which demonstrates her clear stance on equal rights, with the message “No Vote, no information about my household” scrawled across it.