EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Press release, 5 December 2007

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Women, men and work in the EU

The working conditions of both women and men throughout the European Union are analysed in detail in a new Eurofound report Gender and working conditions in the European Union. The report explores gender in the context of occupational segregation, working conditions, working time and subjective well-being. It includes an analysis of job satisfaction, work-life balance and health outcomes and looks at possible policy orientations.

While men work longer paid hours, women’s composite working time, including employment, commuting and unpaid work at home, tends to be longer than that of men. This is the case whether women are in full-time or part-time employment. Women often choose part-time work due to the pressures of juggling paid employment with unpaid work at home. Full-timers, especially men, enjoy greater autonomy at work, while women are more exposed to the risk of violence, bullying, unwelcome sexual attention and discrimination.

Published as the European Year on Equal Opportunities draws to a close, the report shows that three quarters of the EU workforce are managed by men. It found that among white-collar managers and professionals, women have less autonomy and are more likely to work shifts. Women are also more at risk of being paid low wages and of poverty. High poverty rates are particularly apparent for lone mothers and retired women.

However, women are only half as likely as men to be contacted concerning their work outside working hours. This applies for both full-timers and part-timers and across all occupational groups. And women in clerical jobs or lower skilled blue-collar occupations express satisfaction with the fit between their working hours and non-work life. This is also the case for professionals, both male and female. Women also tend to have more regular schedules and are less involved in evening, night or weekend working.

While women are less likely to have working-time autonomy, the most satisfied workers are those with some working-time autonomy and who work full-time but not more than 48 hours a week, even though they may work unsocial hours. Most women employed part-time do not want to change the number of hours they work. Nevertheless, one in three women would like longer hours in paid employment. Fears about job security affect clerical and blue-collar workers more than white-collar workers.

The report underlines the gender inequality in unpaid domestic workloads. It suggests men be encouraged to avail of parental leave and seek to adjust their working hours. It also suggests curbing long full-time working hours, thereby facilitating a more equitable pattern of paid and unpaid working time. Childcare and eldercare responsibilities also need to be addressed. The report notes that long hours make jobs incompatible with family and other commitments for both men and women.

Dowload the report

For further information, contact
- Måns Mårtensson, Press Officer, by email, telephone +353 1 204 31 24 or mobile +353 87 659 35 07

Note to the editor
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound - is a tripartite EU body, whose role is to provide key actors in social policy making with findings, knowledge and advice drawn from comparative research. Eurofound was established by Council Regulation EEC No 1365/75 of 26 May 1975 and is located in Dublin, Ireland.

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