Outdated stereotypes and ways of working preventing women from accessing high-paying roles
Research from leading skills organisation City & Guilds suggests that outdated stereotypes and ways of working are holding women back from accessing high-paying job opportunities in traditionally male-dominated industries. The research finds that women are shunning jobs in areas such as Construction, Energies & Utilities and Transport in favour of lower-paid sectors.
As women are more likely than men to take on caring responsibilities throughout their working lives, the research points to the need to create more flexibility and a better work-life balance to open the doors to jobs that seem inaccessible to many women. Women also need to be made aware of the range of opportunities available to them, by reaching young women as early as possible.
The Great Jobs research – which explores the attitudes of 10,000 UK working-age people towards the essential jobs that keep the nation running – finds that when looking for a new job, 53% of working-age women prioritise flexibility, compared to just 38% of male respondents, whilst 65% of women opt for a good work-life balance compared to 57% of men.
Women are more likely to be interested in careers in typically female-dominated industries – such as Education (37%), Health & Social Care (31%), and Retail (43%). These jobs are more likely to be in the public sector, offering part-time roles with flexible hours. But they also typically offer lower salaries. In comparison, very few women would consider working in essential jobs in traditionally male-dominated industries – such as Energies & Utilities (14%), IT, Communications and Finance (23%), Construction (9%) and Transport and Logistics (14). These roles offer higher than average earnings and a vast amount of job opportunities.
Furthermore, across the 10 essential job sectors, women are consistently more likely than men to say that they wouldn’t consider a job because they ‘don’t have the relevant skills, experience or qualifications.’ This highlights the well-known gender confidence gap when it comes to job applications, stemming from outdated gender stereotypes.
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds, said: “We know there’s no such thing as “women’s jobs” or “men’s jobs” in this day and age. However, our research demonstrates that women still often favour certain types of job roles over others, largely because of old stereotypes around what jobs are ‘for them’, because they know they are more likely to be able to balance work in these sectors with caring responsibilities, and because of a confidence gap.
“We desperately need to consider how we can make a wider variety of jobs more accessible and attractive to women by introducing more flexibility for employees and ensuring that women realise that careers in male-dominated sectors could be a good fit for them. This will be pivotal to opening up new career opportunities, but it will also create a more diverse, equal and productive workforce – and help employers fill critical skills gaps.
“We also need to offer better careers advice and guidance to girls from primary school age onwards and give better access to role models of women working in male-dominated careers.”
Bailey Johnson is one example of a woman working in the typically male-dominated rail industry. An engineer working for Central Rail Systems Alliance, Bailey said: “There are plenty of people who think I shouldn’t be working in rail because I’m a woman, but that only encourages me to prove them wrong.
“My advice to anyone who wants to work in rail, or any other male-dominated industry, is don’t hold back – if you think you can do it, and you want to do it, then why not also prove them wrong. To help more women like myself to follow our passions and progress in our careers, we need greater support from employers and better guidance from an early age to demonstrate the opportunities available to us.”
City & Guilds is calling on UK employers, Government and wider society to #BreakTheBias and take active steps to provide equal opportunities for women to access a wider range of high-paying, rewarding careers.