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This paper provides statistics and analysis on women’s participation in the labour market and in business. It provides an overview of the financial effect of the coronavirus on women and tracks trends of women in employment, the gender pay gap, and women leading businesses.

Women in employment

In the UK, 15.49 million women aged 16+ were in employment in October-December 2020, down 117,000 from a year ago. The female employment rate was 71.8%, down from a record high of 72.4% a year previously. The male employment rate was 80.6%.

9.61 million women were working full-time, while 5.88 million were working part-time. Women made up the majority of part-time employment (38%), compared to 13% of men.

The most common sectors for women’s employment in the UK are health and social work (accounting for 20% of all jobs held by women at September 2020), the wholesale and retail trade (14%) and education (12%). In the health and social work sector, 78% of jobs are held by women and in education, they hold 71%.

How much are women paid?

Median weekly pay for female full-time employees was £543 at April 2020. This compared to £619 for male full-time employees.

After adjusting for inflation, median pay for female full-time employees was around 2% higher than its 2008 level, while median pay for men was around 8% lower.

  • 7.4% for full-time employees,At April 2020, the gender pay gap in median hourly pay (excluding overtime) for men and women was:
  • -2.9% for part-time employees (meaning women tended to be paid more than men),
  • 15.5% for all employees.

The gender pay gap for all employees is larger than either the full-time or part-time pay gaps. This is because a much higher share of women than men are employed part-time and part-time workers tend to earn less per hour than those working full-time.

How many women are running a business?

Of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises with employees, 17% were led by women in 2015.

Men are more likely than women to be involved in “total early stage entrepreneurial activity,” which includes owning or running a business less than 3.5 years old.

In June 2019, 29% of directors of FTSE100 companies were women. In the FTSE250 (the next largest 250 listed companies outside the FTSE100), 27% of directors were women.


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