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Women in employment

In the UK, 15.66 million women aged 16 and over were in employment in October to December 2022, according to the ONS UK labour market bulletin. This means that 108,000 more women were employed than in the year before. The female employment rate was 72.3%, down from a record high of 72.7% in December 2019 to February 2020. The male employment rate was 79.0%.

There were 9.74 million women working full time, while 5.92 million were working part time. Most part-time employment was by women (38%), compared with 14% of men.

In the UK, the sectors with the most women in employment are health and social work (accounting for 21% of all jobs held by women as of September 2022), the wholesale and retail trade (13%) and education (12%).  In the health and social work sector, 77% of jobs are held by women, and in education it is 70%.

How much are women paid?

Median weekly pay for female full-time employees was £584 in April 2022, according to data from the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. This compared with £683 for male full-time employees.

After adjusting for inflation, median pay for women working full time was around 2% higher than its level during the economic downturn in 2008, while median pay for men was around 8% lower.

In April 2022, the gender pay gap in median hourly pay (excluding overtime) between men and women was:

  • 8.3% for full-time employees
  • -2.8% for part-time employees (meaning women tended to be paid more than men)
  • 14.9% 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 more 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 businesses?

Of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises with employees, 19% were led by women in 2021, according to data from the BEIS Small Business Survey (employers).

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 July 2022, 39.6% of FTSE 100 directorships and 38.9% of FTSE 250 directorships were held by women.

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