Barriers to the achievement of women's potential in their working lives: evidence and policy implications from English "Gender and Employment in Local Labour Markets" research programme
CIRCLE, School of Sociology and Social Policy University of Leeds Leeds, UK
This paper highlights the diversity of women's situations in the labour market in England, based on a unique mix of qualitative and quantitative data about women in a wide range of labour market settings and on detailed analysis of 12 English local labour markets.
Drawing on the findings of the Gender and Employment in Local Labour Markets study 2003-6 (the detailed evidence from this study was presented in the GELLM report series published in 2006), and on a new analysis presented in a recently published edited collection of contributions by members of the study team [S. Yeandle (ed.) Policy for a Change: local labour market analysis and gender equality, Bristol: Policy Press, 2009], the paper: - highlights some of the pervasive myths about women and employment which have influenced policy; - draws attention to aspects of women's labour market situation which remain poorly understood; and - challenges some of the "received wisdom" about women and work.
Reflecting on the challenges faced - in very different local labour market contexts - by local policy-makers in overcoming barriers to the achievement of women's potential in their working lives, the paper highlights key policy recommendations from the GELLM studies, considers the theoretical significance of the diversity and inequality which the study exposed, and reflects on the likely consequences of the current recession for women's labour force participation and employment progress, in different policy scenarios.
The discussion is contextualised in the evidence of labour market restructuring and patterns of job change presented in the GELLM reports, and in detailed labour market projections for 2007-17, recently undertaken at sectoral and occupational level for different parts of the UK for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (and prepared by the University of Warwick by Wilson et al in December 2008).