Women On The Rise But Men Still The Top Earners

By on September 26, 2013

Figures show more women than ever are in employment but the men still dominate the high wage bracket.

Women are closing the gap on their male peers when it comes to employment levels, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics. Over the past 40 years, there has been a rise in the percentage of women in employment and a fall in the corresponding percentage of men.

Figures from April to June 2013 show 67% of women aged 16 to 64 are in work, an increase from 53% in 1971. On the other hand, 76% of men in the same age bracket are in employment this year, compared with 92% in 1971.

The ONS has suggested a number of key factors likely to have impacted on the rate of women in work. The rise of the service sector, now one of the UK’s strongest in terms of growth, and the decline of the manufacturing sector could have had an effect, especially when you see the biggest shift occurred between 1971 and 1991.

But perhaps more effective have been a number of legislations which have helped to even out the playing field, starting with the Equal Pay Act of 1970. Also name checked by the ONS are the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act and Employment Protection Act. The latter made it illegal to sack a woman due to pregnancy and introduced statutory maternity provision. These days, it’s hard to imagine an equal workplace without those fundamental revisions.

The figures are certainly encouraging, but there are still some areas in which men dominate. According to the report, men are more likely to be employed in higher skilled jobs than women and make up the majority of workers in the top 10% of earners.

The gap between men and women in the top-earning bracket is significantly smaller in the younger age groups. In the 16-24 age bracket, there is a much more even split of 55% of men and 45% of women, earning highly – as the age increases however, the difference becomes more pronounced. In the 35 – 39 age range, men dominate 68% to 32%.

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