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The quality of jobs tends to worsen as jobs become more feminised

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Mapping the contribution of feminisation to gender gaps across Europe, a new ETUI study has found a concerning trend: as the share of women in a job increases, pay, supervisory responsibilities and contract stability decline for both men and women. This highlights the urgent need to broaden the focus beyond pay differentials within the same job and address the systemic factors contributing to the undervaluation of ‘women’s jobs’.

‘By reevaluating “women’s jobs” and addressing occupational segregation, we can pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive workforce’, suggested Wouter Zwysen, ETUI Senior Researcher and author of the study.

Using large cross-nationally representative datasets – the EU Labour Force Survey (EU LFS) and the Structure of Earnings Survey (SES) – covering the period 2006-2021, this paper is the first to link such segregation to pay and job quality over time across the European Union.

The research highlights the significance of societal perceptions of gender roles, educational discrepancies and discriminatory practices that discourage women from pursuing higher-paying jobs. Wouter Zwysen emphasised the need for longitudinal strategies to reevaluate job remuneration based on objective criteria rather than subjective values, and suggested that the solution lies in robust regulation and collective agreements that uphold job quality standards.

Background

  • Women still face disadvantage in terms of pay, earning around 13% less than men across the EU27, but also in terms of aspects of job quality and access to supervisory positions
  • Part of the gender pay gap is due not only to a sorting process in which women find themselves in lower-paying industries but also to women generally working for lower-paying firms than men
  • While evidence suggests that discrimination in recruitment is rather low and declining, gender pay gaps are found to widen sizably with the advent of children: the so- called ‘motherhood penalty’. Relatedly, women are more often constrained in their mobility through childcare needs
  • Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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