Headlines: March 8th, 2011

Women will be more negatively affected by this year’s public sector budget cuts than men, according to a report by Edinburgh Napier University.

The research findings show that while both sexes will be affected, women are likely to be disproportionately impacted as they are currently so well represented in the public sector. Women make up significantly more of the UK public sector workforce than men, around 65 per cent. The report found that the north east of England and Scotland have the highest proportion of women working in the public sector.

The findings also suggest that getting back into work after redundancy may be tougher for women. Child care responsibilities, finding time to search for jobs alongside caring for a family as well as being less inclined to travel long distances away from family could create potential barriers to re-entering the workplace.

And it’s not just as employees that women could be affected, women could again bear the brunt of the cuts as public sector service users according to the report. Women make up over half of the 5.9 million informal carers in the UK (3.4 million) according to the 2001 UK Census. Service cuts may affect the vital support that these carers receive – be it childcare or looking after an elderly relative.

Professor Dame Joan Stringer, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University said: “Decisions that result in a disproportionate number of women losing their jobs could be bad decisions and are likely to have a retrograde impact on progress towards greater equality. Without the right balance of men and women’s skills in a workplace, you risk disrupting what makes many businesses operate and grow so successfully. By restricting the potential for any group to save or spend money you are also impacting the wider economy. To also curtail any support for childcare or dependents is just another hammer blow.”