Greater Manchester gulfs in jobs, care and transport shows devolution will fail without women

By agency reporter
August 3, 2018

New data published on 2 August 2018 by the Fawcett Society, Happen Together and Amity reveals that, despite Greater Manchester having a lower gender pay gap than the UK as a whole, there are still 'boy jobs' and 'girl jobs' in Greater Manchester apprenticeships. In addition, there are 73,000 fewer women than men employed across the Greater Manchester area – more than live in the whole of Rochdale or Oldham.

The statistics, released in response to a parliamentary question, show that women make up just two per cent of construction apprentices, a sector where 40 per cent of businesses report hard-to-fill vacancies, and just seven per cent of engineering apprenticeships. In a challenge to the Greater Manchester digital skills agenda, just 17 per cent of ICT apprentices are women.

In social care, a sector worth £5.4 billion to the North West region’s economy, new figures find that 83 per cent of the 74,200-strong Greater Manchester social care workforce are women – and 22 per cent of that workforce are on zero-hours contracts.

These findings show that unless policy-makers collect data on gender they will struggle to tackle gender inequality and close these gaps – despite the Mayor’s welcome commitment to address this issue.

The problem is compounded by the fact that women remain under-represented in public life. Just two of the ten Greater Manchester council leaders are women, although the Mayor has taken valuable steps to get more women around the top table.

There are also big differences in how Greater Manchester women and men use public services. Women are 56 per cent more likely to travel by bus in the city region – an area where the Mayor has recently gained new powers. But they take 67 per cent fewer bicycle trips, posing a challenge to Chris Boardman’s plans to “double and then double again” use of bikes, unless women are included in the plans.

This report represents a first look at data on key public services in Greater Manchester, which are part of the devolution policy debate. It has been issued to coincide with the launch of a project called Making Devolution Work for Women. This project wants to make sure that issues that matter most to women are listened to by the Mayor and his cabinet, and that women’s voices are heard throughout the new structure.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “Our challenge to the Mayor is to make Greater Manchester the best place in the UK to be a woman. Women in the region see a pay gap of 11 per cent, and find their skills and expertise are under-used. They carry out the majority of unpaid caring work and older women have the worst life-expectancy in England.”

“Women also have very different transport needs to men. By investing in services which meet those needs we will see the economy thrive and real improvements in women’s lives.”

Eve Holt from DivaManc said: “For devolution to deliver on its promise to return power to the people and to improve lives of all people in Greater Manchester, it needs to work with and for women. The lack of visible women around devolution tables has been stark and the case for change powerful - as laid bare last year in the reports by the Fawcett and LGIU Commission.”

“Women make up 51 per cent of the population and need to be included at every stage of the policy-making process to ensure services work for them. The event on 2nd August is an opportunity to contribute to current plans and to co-design a way for women across Greater Manchester, in all their diversity, to help shape future policy.”

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Devolution has been a great step forward for our city region, but we must be sure to take full advantage of these new powers and responsibilities in a way that makes a difference to the lives of people across all our communities, regardless of age, background, gender, culture or beliefs.

“When I ran for election, I made a commitment that our Combined Authority would be gender balanced. Women are represented in senior positions, and now both men and women are responsible for shaping the future of Greater Manchester. My ambition is to make Greater Manchester the best place in Britain to be a woman, but as this research shows, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality.

“In workplaces, for example, we need to see more being done to promote flexible working, ensure good wages, and tackle discrimination. This is why we are drawing up a Good Employment Charter, working with local employers to ensure people in Greater Manchester receive fair pay, have access to high quality secure jobs, and are given the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of gender.

“I’m committed to working with women in Greater Manchester to explore how we fully embed women’s voices and concerns into the heart of policymaking in Greater Manchester; ensuring women’s voices are heard, listened to, and acted upon. I’ll be taking part in the Making Devolution Work for Women project, so that the voices of women across Greater Manchester continue to inform our work.”

Other key findings of the research so far include:

Employment and skills

  • There are 73,000 fewer women than men employed across the Greater Manchester area – more than live in the whole of Rochdale or Oldham.
  • Ethnic minority women overall have lower employment rates, at 47 per cent compared with 73 per cent for white women and 78.1 per cent for white men.
  • GM has a gender pay gap of 11 per cent overall, and 9.9 per cent for full-time workers. That is less than the national average at 17.4 per cent and 14.1 per cent respectively.
  • There are 67,900 fewer women working in the 10 best-paid occupational groups, like management, STEM, and business – and 44,800 more women working in the 10 lowest paid occupational groups, like sales and caring
  • Just 10 per cent of better paying (£20k p.a. full-time equivalent) jobs are advertised flexibly across the city region according to Timewise data

Childcare and Social Care

  • Women are 30 per cent more likely to provide unpaid care for another adult than men, and 35 per cent more likely to provide over 20 hours per week of care.
  • Only 22 per cent of councils across the wider North West have enough childcare available for parents working atypical hours

Transport

  • Sustrans figures show that women make up just 33 per cent of cyclists in Greater Manchester.
  • Women are 35 per cent more likely to walk than men, 34 per cent more likely to take the Metrolink, and 17 per cent less likely to travel by train in Greater Manchester

* Read  Making Devolution Work for Women here

* Fawcett Society https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/

* Happen Together https://www.happencic.org/

* Amity http://www.amityhcd.co/

[Ekk/4]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.