Women still behind in the labour market

2016-03-13 10:00:00

Whenever there has been an analysis of the effects of the crisis on the employment situation among men and women, it usually turns out that unemployment affects women most. This is still as true as ever. Female unemployment in Malaga is currently 29 % and for men it is 25%, and during the worst years of the crisis the difference was even greater.
However, there is another, less obvious effect, which has also widened inequality in the labour market in Malaga, and that is part-time work. In ten years, the percentage of female workers in the province who work six, five, four or fewer hours a day, has risen from 27% to 35%; or, to put it another way, from 63,600 to 91,700 women. In other words, more than one third of all women who work in Malaga province today are employed part-time, and the number is growing: over the last year, the figure has risen by more than five per cent.
The percentage of men who work part-time is barely 12%. This difference between genders is nothing new: a shorter working day has always been “a woman’s thing” because it is linked to childcare. What is new is that in an increasing number of cases, part-time work is not a personal choice. It is imposed upon the employees by the labour market. According to the latest Survey of the Active Population, 60 per cent of women who work part-time have this type of contract because they couldn’t find full-time work.
Work poverty
The economic crisis - aided by labour reform, say the unions - has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of part-time contracts. Companies who need staff but want to save on costs use this formula, and it has become especially common in sectors such as distribution and commerce, where there are even ‘mini-jobs’ for 15 hours a week.
The unions warn that these female workers meet all the criteria for the so-called ‘work poverty’ because they are paid low salaries, which in some cases are less than 500 euros a month. They also stress that these contracts are often fraudulent, especially in the bar and restaurant sector where “workers are taken on part-time but in reality they work a full day and are paid the difference under the table,” as the provincial secretary of the CC OO union, Antonio Herrera, complained recently at the presentation of a report about the changes in employment in the province.
The high percentage of women on part-time contracts is one of the principal causes of the salary difference between men and women. In Malaga, according to the latest figures from the Tax Agency, the average gross salary is 13,082 euros for women and 16,918 euros for men. That’s a difference of 30 per cent.
In terms of equality, the fact that part-time work mostly applies to women has a further negative effect, apart from lower salaries. These workers are rarely considered for promotion purposes.
Juggling work and family
According to the EPA survey, only 18.6 per cent of women who are on part-time contracts chose this formula in order to care for their children or family dependents, or for other personal or family obligations.
When we take a closer look at this group, it becomes clear that there is another, even greater, inequality. Of the total number of people who work part-time to care for children or other family members, no fewer than 95.3 per cent are women. In other words, juggling work and family life is still down to women, and this stops them rising in their professions to more responsible positions.
However, there has also been some progress in terms of equality at work. To start with, the most important thing: the incorporation of women into the labour market has progressed more than ever in recent years, so the level of female employment - the percentage of women over the age of 16 who are working or seeking work - has finally broken the 50 per cent barrier.
In fact, the current figure is 53.4 per cent, almost ten percentage points higher than a decade ago. A large part of this increase in the active female population has obvious causes: housewives whose husbands are unemployed have managed to find work for themselves. According to the EPA survey, the number of women who dedicate themselves to “household matters” is now 128,700, which is 18.6 per cent of the female population over the age of 16. It’s worth remembering that in the 1980s this figure was 50 per cent; the difference is enormous.
Nevertheless, equality remains a long way away. Women in Malaga still need to increase their employment by a further ten points to equal that of men, which currently stands at 64.6 per cent.
One of the areas where women have not only moved up the table but are still winning on points is in higher education. In fact, more women than men in Malaga have been to university at present: 119,500 compared with 87,500.
This is mainly due to the new generations, because in the older age ranges there are still marked gender differences. For example, the percentage of people who cannot read or write, and who have no education, is 15 per cent for women and 10.7 per cent among men.
Returning to university studies, although there may be more women than men in the lecture halls, the principal focus of inequality on the campus has not changed: some careers are still seen as being women-orientated and others for men.
Even this week, at a meeting held at the Higher Technical School of IT engineering and Telecommunications, a startling piece of data was revealed: barely 10 per cent of engineering students at Malaga University are women. And something that’s even more shocking: this percentage has not changed. In fact, it has dropped in recent years.source surinenglish