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HIE Report Highlights Extent Of Occupational Segregation In The Region

11th March 2017

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is encouraging employers across the region to promote the benefits of a gender balance workforce.

The move follows the publication this week of a report entitled ‘Occupational Segregation in the Highlands and Islands' commissioned by the agency.

The research, carried out by ekosgen, identified that occupational segregation is more pronounced in the Highlands and Islands than across Scotland as a whole, impacting on individuals, employers and the economy.

The study highlighted that employment rates for both men (82.8%) and women (75.3%) in the region exceed the Scottish average. However, employment levels are higher amongst men than women, and the difference is more marked than for Scotland as a whole.

The report, published to coincide with this week’s International Women’s Day, identified that while occupational segregation impacts on both genders, it is more often women that experience the negative consequences.

There is clear evidence of a gender pay gap in the Highlands and Islands and men are more likely to work in more senior well paid positions, while women are more prevalent in less senior roles.

The type of jobs that men and women work in often reflect traditional views of what is ‘women’s work’ and what is ‘men’s work’. These patterns persist across most sectors and are evident in subject choices across modern apprenticeships, further and higher education.

A range of factors contribute, including perpetuating stereotypes, workplace practices and cultures, working patterns and structural barriers such as availability of childcare.

While acknowledging local circumstances, the report points to the need for a region-wide strategic approach to address the issue.

Carroll Buxton, director of regional development at HIE, said: "There are numerous benefits to having an evenly balanced workforce. It supports men and women to fulfil their potential. It helps employers make better use of talent. And it provides the conditions to support more sustainable communities.

“It is therefore a key priority for us to promote the business benefits of a gender balanced workforce. To that end we must work with our partners in the public and private sectors to overcome the barriers and bring about equal participation by men and women across different job types or grades."

The full report is available at

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