Women still hampered by workplace inequality

Updated: 2007-12-06 09:32

LONDON -- Women are still the victims of persistent gender inequality in the workplace, with very little change in their working conditions in Britain for almost two decades, according to a landmark report on Thursday.

Women are working longer hours because they are still shouldering the bulk of household duties like cleaning and childcare, the Cambridge University report found.

This was leading to a vicious circle in which women worked more part-time hours, preventing them from furthering their career.

The report, "Gender and working conditions in the European Union", said there was still segregation in the workplace while women were far less likely to earn high salaries than their male counterparts.

It found that despite British female workers making up just under half of the workforce, fewer than one in six had senior management roles.

The report, based on surveys of 30,000 workers in the 27 EU countries, revealed few women were represented in the armed forces, skilled manual work and senior management.

More were in "caring" professions and clerical support.

"Our research revealed persistent gender inequalities in many, but not all, types of work and working conditions," said Brendan Burchell, who led the study.

"There is still a very big difference in the way domestic work is shared -- it is changing but it is changing slowly," he told Reuters. "Men are starting to take an equal shoulder of the housework but ... this still needs to change."

He said he was struck at how inequality, particularly in working conditions, in Britain had not changed since 1991.

"In many ways we are an average country," he added. "We have lots of part time workers, second only to the Netherlands, which in some ways is good as it takes the pressure off families, but on the other hand it makes it more difficult for women to get back and become established in the labour market."

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