Four out of five people in Wales work in an environment dominated by their own sex, with men far more likely to be in high-paid jobs, a study has found.
The Wave group found in general women’s jobs were characterised by low pay and part-time working.
Of 353 occupations, 267 are made up of mostly one gender, with 91% of skilled trades occupied by men.
The business lobby CBI said it was a business issue and better diversity made for an improved bottom line.
The report’s author said gender segregation at work had to be tackled to improve the pay gap.
The Wave (Women Adding Value the Economy) partnership is hosting a meeting of business people, academics and trade unionists in Swansea to try to bring about changes to what they called ingrained working patterns.
The research, Working Patterns in Wales, found within the 54 skilled trades occupations, only seven were found to be gender balanced.
Three which had a majority of women were tailoring, dressmaking and flower arranging.
Women only make up 1% of construction workers.
Other research found female entrepreneurs earn less than men, in general due to the type of business they choose and the lower prices they charge.
Report author Dr Alison Parken of Cardiff University said: “Even though we have had laws for over 40 years guaranteeing equal pay for the same work, we still have a gender pay disparity because men and women do very different work on very different contracts.
“This problem won’t go away until we tackle the issue of gender segregation and remove the limits this places on the work women do.”
The project has set up an online equal pay barometer which will allow employees and employers to compare pay rates across 300 different occupations.
One of the groups working with Wave is the Women’s Workshop Project, which helps prepare women to secure jobs in areas traditionally dominated by men.
Liz Fahy from the project told BBC Wales: “We have a history of men and women working in certain occupations and it’s quite difficult to change that history, but things are moving forward.
“Working in the construction industry now is realistic for women.”
Sian Nokes is a construction site manager who says she was drawn to the industry after seeing her male friends enjoying their work, earning well and being able to afford “big holidays”.
“It’s something I thought I could do. Yes, it is a male environment but also we can be part of that.
“It’s something I have worked hard for. I enjoy it. Men are coming to terms with females coming into the industry,” she said.
“It’s good the fact that you can have a really high paid job, you have good qualifications, a job that you can really enjoy doing.
“It doesn’t have to be a male environment.”
Emma Watkins, director of the CBI in Wales, told BBC it was not just a women’s issue but a business issue.
“Better gender diversity makes for better decision making, and better business which in turn helps the bottom line,” she said.
“Business has to own the solution and have ideas and take them forward in their own ways.”
She said the progress in areas such as science, engineering and technical skilled work was disappointing and something which worried the CBI.
Ms Watkins added: “We’ll be coming out with some findings early next week about how to encourage more women in those roles starting from schools and encouraging young girls to study science and maths and go into jobs in that area.
“You need to have a diverse range of individuals, different talents, represented throughout all sectors and all levels and we have to represent society where women make up half the population.”
Source: BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-26434628
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