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Home Opinion Ideas & Debate Working for Women, Parents and Growth

Working for women, parents and growth


Working for women, parents and growth

High employment is the linchpin to both future economic competitiveness and the sustainability of existing social policy commitments. Growing the female workforce is a key policy to improve competitiveness, growth and productivity.  The case for policies that break down barriers to women’s participation in the labour market is not just about smart politics or fairness. Gender equality is key to growth as women are the single most under-utilised economic asset.

Securing women’s participation in the labour market calls for new social investment policies combined with predistributive policy aimed at tackling inequality at source and to encourage economic growth simultaneously. Women are disproportionally more likely to be labour market outsiders yet traditional forms of social security are geared towards protecting labour market insiders. Reforming part-time work, addressing the motherhood pay penalty, changes to parental leave and childcare policy are all key areas that need attention to reflect the realities of a twenty-first century labour market.
This Policy Network essay series aims to shape this debate through informed critique and fresh thinking. Each piece provides a perspective on how to make the economic, political and fairness case for improved policies to support women in the labour market.



The economic case for female labour market participation
The major reason for female economic inactivity is due to looking after family or the home; in 2014, this was the case for 40 per cent of economically inactive women. More needs to be done to get women into work, as more women leads to a faster, stronger, and more inclusive economy
By Emma Kinloch

Supporting working parents is good policy and good politics
The centre-left have to make sure they do not take women votes for granted, despite having electoral support from them historically. Policies for working parents displays a commitment by the centre-left to many issues women care about.
By Kimberly Morgan

Time to add gender equality to the growth agenda
Women's equality is not just a matter of fairness. It is also vital to a nation's economic performance and sound governance; investment in women boosts economic development, GDP and job creation.
By Mari Kiviniemi

A childcare win-win
Quebec's low-fee childcare programme proved to be a success, creating more jobs, paying for itself and raising GDP within the province. As well, it shows that policy which raises women's employment is important to economic performance.
By Pierre Fortin

'Daddy leave': a route to greater gender equality in housework and childcare?
An increase in leave entitlements for fathers can increase their involvement within housework and childcare, but the long-term impact of such policy on the gender labour division in the home is contestable.
By Pia Schober

Breaking down barriers
There are many issues that women face when entering the labour market, and so a multifaceted policy must be used to stop these issues, such as tackling biases about labour divisions and making workplaces more family-friendly.
By Moira Nelson

The 'flexibility' misnomer
'Flexible working' was seen as an answer to a woman's needs within the workplace, but in fact can be exploited by employers. Therefore, a forward-looking discussion of the workplace is needed, where men and women can express the desire and need to combine work with family care-giving.
By Judith Warner

Turning over the 'hourglass' labour market argument
Women and men at the bottom of the labour market have both fared poorly since the recession. But even a closing of the pay gap for higher-paid women is not quite all it seems.
By Craig Holmes

Busting the 'early intervention' myth
There is near political consensus that a focus on pre-school education is beneficial both to social mobility and helping women remain in the workforce. Is it time we re-evaluated our methods? But even a closing of the pay gap for higher-paid women is not quite all it seems.
By Alison Wolf

Would more free childcare get more mothers into work?
If considered purely as a pro-employment policy, free childcare places are expensive and ineffective. As a result a more streamlined approach, and more centres for three and four year-olds to be in all year round, could be a solution to this.
By Mike Brewer

Women in the workforce: prizing open the part-time work trap
What are the solutions to the problem of women becoming trapped in low-paid, low-skill work after childbirth
By Sylvia Walby

Beyond childcare, childcare, childcare
Policy on childcare continues to promote a conservative view of women's roles in the home and labour market. It is time for a new approach.
By Emma Kinloch

Investing in female labour
With working women making up a larger and larger proportion of the electorate, they and other like-minded voters stand to reward governments that address tensions in balancing work and family needs.
By Moira Nelson

The motherhood penalty
There is virtually no gender pay gap until the point at which women become mothers. But then a motherhood penalty takes hold where many women find themselves on a downward career trajectory often characterised by low-paid jobs with few opportunities for progression.
By Dalia Ben-Galim

Women and labour market risk
The processes of deindustrialisation, tertiarisation and labour market deregulation have led to a massive increase of the share of atypical employment – notably temporary and involuntary part-time employment – and unemployment in all countries of Western Europe.
By Silja Häusermann

Social democracy and the unfinished gender revolution
The leftward drift of the female vote is not a guaranteed win for social democracy. But if policy is targeted effectively, long term political, economic and social benefits are likely to follow.
By Michael McTernan


Research contact:
Emma Kinloch, ekinloch@policy-network.net