Trading Workplaces; WOMEN OUTNUMBER MEN IN EMPLOYMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME SAYS STUDY

Daily Mail (London), December 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

Trading Workplaces; WOMEN OUTNUMBER MEN IN EMPLOYMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME SAYS STUDY


Byline: HAMISH MACDONELL

WOMEN now outnumber men in the Scottish workforce, according to new figures obtained by the Scottish Daily Mail.

Official statistics show that men have lost their dominant position in the workforce for the first time since records began.

As the country enters the new millennium, women make up 51 per cent of the working population of Scotland, with men accounting for only 49 per cent.

According to the figures, there are 1,959,300 people working in Scotland - of which 1,003,000 are women.

Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Henry McLeish hailed the statistics as a revolution in the workplace.

He stressed that there would have to be major changes inside and outside the workplace to accommodate the changes.

The figures were compiled from local authorities by the Office for National Statistics and count employees in all industries except agriculture and hunting.

The survey of working practices in Scotland examined the number of men and women employed in different sectors and in all parts of Scotland since 1901.

It showed a huge change in patterns of employment through the century. But it is the figures for each local authority for 1999 which are most significant.

In 26 of Scotland's 36 unitary authorities, women make up 50 per cent or more of the workforce and 23 councils have recorded an increase in female employment between 1991 and 1997.

Aberdeen has the lowest share of female employment at 43 per cent but other areas with less than 50 per cent of women in the workforce included Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, North Lanarkshire and West Lothian all 49 per cent and Renfrewshire at 47 per cent.

The areas with the highest share of female employment were Stirling, East Dunbartonshire and the Western Isles, all with a 57 per cent share.

Most of the areas which saw a decline in female employment also experienced a substantial decrease in employment as a whole.

Mr McLeish said there were three revolutions occurring in the workplace, an industrial revolution led by the Internet, a learning revolution and a quiet revolution with women becoming the dominant force in the labour market.

He said: 'In terms of women taking their rightful place in the workplace, it does reflect a need for support in terms of a huge range of services, private and public, including childcare.' The Minister said many businesses and industries had seen childcare as a soft service in the past, something that they did not have to provide.

But now, he said, businesses had to wake up to the changing face of employment and provide the services needed by their staff. 'People have to start looking at more family-friendly policies,' he said.

Mr McLeish stressed that childcare and other services would not place a burden on business but would actually help stimulate a much more productive working environment.

The Minister said the figures also had a clear and positive message for men who might be worried that their usual dominance in the workplace was being undermined.

He said: 'Overall employment is growing in Scotland for both men and women and while there will be changes in terms of the traditional industries, there will be new opportunities for both men and women.' The Minister acknowledged that the huge rise in female employment was largely accounted for by the growth in part-time jobs but said that part-time work often gave the flexibility that many people, especially women with children, wanted from their employment.

Annabel Goldie, the deputy leader of the Scottish Tory Party, said: 'I don't think men need to tremble at the prospect of being taken over by a monstrous regiment of women.

'This is a very healthy trend and shows that more women are finding a way back to the workplace. …

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