Women in Manufacturing: The Scottish Evidence

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Pauline Anderson, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Patricia Findlay, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Johanna Commander, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Recent trends point to the shoots of global manufacturing recovery. UK manufacturing has bounced back from the downturn at a quicker rate than other sectors, supported by improvements in competitiveness and productivity. Far from being in unavoidable decline, UK manufacturing is expected to continue to grow its share of the economy through established sub-sectors (e.g. food & drink, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, electronics and automotive) and emerging sub-sectors/technologies (e.g. renewables, nanotechnology, digital and advanced materials). However, manufacturing recovery is not benefiting women and men equally. The US Congress Joint Economic Committee notes that women’s representation within US manufacturing has decreased since 2010 and is now at its lowest since 1971 (at 27%). Female representation within the UK and Scottish manufacturing cluster is even lower (at 24% and 25% respectively).

This paper examines women’s participation in the manufacturing sector in Scotland to identify patterns of participation, occupational segregation (horizontal and vertical), gendered skills gaps, and gender differences apprenticeships and other skill pipelines. The impact of women’s participation on earnings and on the gender pay gap is also examined. The research methodology comprised secondary data and a literature review, analysis of existing national datasets and some primary data collection and analysis. Whilst the focus of this research is on quantitative data analysis, some qualitative data was generated from industry stakeholders. The findings reveal significant patterns of horizontal and vertical segregation. Men are overrepresented in ‘good’ jobs and women are overrepresented in ‘bad’ jobs. More than one-third of women currently working in the sector are located in sub-sectors and occupational levels most at risk of skills-biased technological change. There is an exceptionally high gender pay gap relative to the rest of the Scottish economy, and gendered skill pipelines and inflexible workplace practices are endemic. The theoretical and policy implications of these findings are discussed.