Shifting Stereotypes: Gender and Job Roles

Reed in Partnership is calling for greater gender balance across the UK workforce to open up work opportunities for jobseekers and better equip our economy for the future.

Our new report - Shifting Stereotypes: Gender and Job Roles - has found that deep-rooted social attitudes, educational choices and inflexible working patterns are among the reasons why certain work sectors continue to be dominated by single genders.

We are campaigning for a shift in attitudes to give a much needed boost to these sectors that will need larger and more diverse workforce in the future. In doing so, greater opportunities will also be available to unemployed jobseekers looking for work.

Identifying job goals

As part of our report, we analysed the job goals of 500 participants of our employment support services, and found that their aspirations relating to role and sector reflected typical gendered patterns in the wider economy.

Female participants were more likely to identify care or administrative roles, and men were more likely to identify transport or logistical roles.

For example, only 3% of male participants we supported entered a care role, compared to 16% of female participants; whereas 2% of females secured warehouse roles compared to 11% of males.

The case for greater diversity

Donna Murrell, Operations Director at Reed in Partnership, said:

“There is nothing wrong with men working in construction or transport, and women working in care or admin. Deciding what you want to do for a living is a personal choice, and jobseekers should be free to pursue a career in whichever sector and role best suits their skills and interests.

“However, work needs to be done to ensure that people aren’t applying for – or are being locked out of - certain types of work, because they feel limited by their gender or because of social attitudes and stereotypes.

“Breaking down these barriers can enable employers to benefit from a wider talent pool and increase choice for individuals.

“As a leader in employment support, we will be stepping up our efforts to ensure that more unemployed jobseekers are aware of all the opportunities available to them so that they can make a real informed choice on their job aspirations. We are also pleased to be supporting Mitey [Men In The Early Years], who this week published their guide to recruiting men into early years education.”

Dr Jeremy Davies, Project Lead for Mitey, said:

“Thinking carefully about gender when recruiting and managing staff is really important – both when the workforce is dominated by one gender, and when it isn’t. There’s so much more employers could be doing to reach out and provide support to ‘minoritized’ staff, and this report gives them a really accessible starting point.”

Mitey’s brand new guidance is available here.

Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust said that for women to achieve their potential, they should not only have wider access to other sectors, but that the sectors dominated by women need to improve, too:

“Smashing career stereotypes is essential if we’re to enable young women to achieve their potential, and ensure we have an economy that makes the most of everyone’s talents and skills. Alongside breaking down barriers which are locking women out of key parts of the economy, we need to value and invest in sectors including childcare and social care which employ many young women, too often on low pay with little chance of progression.”

Time for action

We will be taking action over the coming months to address the findings this report. Participants on our employment support services will have access to in-house training courses around sectors they might not have previously considered. Our team of Employment Advisers will receive advice and guidance on ways to challenge jobseekers’ preconceptions about gender roles in employment. We will also be running social media campaigns that highlight the benefits of working in sectors traditionally dominated by another gender.

You can download our full report below.

Download Paper
Shifting Stereotypes: Gender and Job Roles