Women's Jobs, Men's Jobs

Women's Jobs, Men's Jobs

What is women's work?

Women and men tend to be clustered into different occupations and sectors. There are many reasons for this, including stereotyping about men and women’s capabilities and skills, access to training and the culture associated with different types of work. Job segregation restricts choices for both women and men, the jobs which are more likely to be done by women are associated with low pay and limited prospects for progression.

These jobs, or 'women's work', are sometimes referred to as the 5 Cs: cleaning, catering, cashiering (retail), clerical work, and caring. Men who do work in these female dominated sectors are more likely to hold senior or managerial roles.

Undervaluing of roles and occupations

The undervaluing of roles is linked to gender stereotyping, and expectations placed on women where historically they have carried out similar roles in the home, such as caring and cleaning. ‘Women’s work’ has lower status and value because the skills required for these jobs are perceived to be inherent in women. As a result, the work is not fairly paid.

The potential for the undervaluation of women’s work is recognised in equal pay law. Not only are women at risk of being undervalued within a given job or occupation (they are, for example, at a greater risk of being paid less for the same level of efficiency within the same job), but they are also at risk of undervaluation through employment in jobs or occupations which are, in themselves, undervalued. This is reflected in the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. Equal value is measured in terms of the demands of the job. This means that an individual has the right not to be paid less than a member of the opposite sex where the work is different but is of equal value in terms of the job.

Examples of claims between different jobs which have been successful at tribunal or settled in favour of the applicant(s), include:

  • Wholesale news distribution clerical assistant and warehouse operative
  • Cook and shipboard painter
  • Canteen workers and cleaners and surface mineworkers and clerical workers
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