Employees in female-dominated workplaces have the worst access to flexible working arrangements, according to new research.
Despite many assuming lower wages in such workplaces are justified through family-friendly arrangements, the study found provisions actually worse than in gender-neutral or male-dominated offices.
The research, from the University of Kent, examined 27 EU countries, and found the best workplaces for providing flexibility were ones where men and women were equally represented.
Researcher Dr Heejung Chung, of the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, found that what she called a ‘women’s work penalty’ existed in every country covered by her study.
She said: “Working in jobs and sectors where women were over-represented decreased the likelihood of access to schedule control for both men and women.
“The ‘women’s work penalty’ for working in female-dominated jobs was stable across countries.
“Although the ‘women’s work penalty’ in female-dominated sectors varied across countries, in none was access better than in sectors where both genders were equally represented.
“The results of this article confirm the conclusions of previous scholars, where typically female jobs were less likely to gain investment from employers in terms of improved working conditions and workers in these jobs were less likely to be given control or autonomy over their work.
“Based on the results of this study, the application of ‘women’s work penalty’ can be extended from gender wage gaps to other desirable working conditions.
“This provides evidence to reject the commonly accepted assumption that women have better access to flexible working arrangements and that female-dominated workplaces are better in providing them.
“Accordingly, it also puts into question the theory of compensating differentials: that the low wages found in female-dominated workplaces can be justified through the better provision of family-friendly arrangements.
“Female-dominated workplaces not only have low wages, but also have worse working conditions.”
The findings were published in the European Journal of Industrial Relations.