Women benefiting from changes in the occupational structure

Since the economic crisis, growth in employment has been skewed towards high-wage jobs. Middle-wage jobs have been destroyed in huge numbers because manufacturing and construction, the sectors most severely shaken by the crisis, have a concentration of jobs in the mid-paying range. 

These developments are benefiting women workers and narrowing the gender gap in employment. From mid-2011 to mid-2013, women’s employment increased modestly by 60,000, while that of men fell by nearly 1.4 million.

Sectoral gender differences

The main reason behind this shift is the gender make-up of the different economic sectors. Manufacturing and construction are heavily male-dominated, while the sectors with most growth in employment – health and education especially – are traditionally dominated by women and tend to have jobs with higher hourly pay rates.

The figure below shows the net employment change across five wage categories for women and men. Employment growth has been relatively strong in the highest wage category, and women have gained a larger share of this than men. 

Chart showing employment change for male and female workers

Only in the lowest-paying jobs has employment growth for men outpaced that of women. This is due in part to men who have been let go from manufacturing and construction jobs taking up lower-paid service jobs in the food and beverage, construction and retail sectors.

Meanwhile, employment levels for women in the lowest-paid jobs have fallen due to job losses among cleaners and helpers working for private household employers, as well as a relatively sharp decline in female agricultural employment.





Part-time work

An interesting gender-shift is taking place in part-time work – it’s becoming less dominated by women as male workers increasingly take up part-time jobs. Over 60% of net new male part-time jobs in the lowest wage category were in three typically female-dominated occupations – personal care workers, sales workers, and cleaners and helpers.  

Chart showing employment change for male and female part-time workers

For women, new part-time employment has tended to be in professional and managerial occupations, notably business and administration professionals, health professionals and commercial or administrative managers. These jobs could represent existing full-time jobs being converted to part-time ones, as well as newly created part-time jobs. 

More information on recent employment shifts can be found in the latest European Jobs Monitor annual report.

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