News / gender inequality

South West ranks highest in female economic empowerment

By aphra evans, Monday Mar 9, 2020

The South West has topped a table that rates the UK regions according to female participation in the labour force and pay disparities between women and men.

PwC’s latest Women in Work Index ranked the South West in second place last year, but it rose to first place this year based on data from 2018, the most recent available.

The region’s strong performance is based on having the highest female labour force participation rate, the smallest gap in male and female labour force participation rates, and the second lowest female unemployment rate.

On the negative side, the South West had the lowest female full-time employment rate of all.



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Heather Ancient, a partner in PwC’s West and Wales region, commented, “Getting more women into the workforce and reducing the pay gap are priorities for the UK Government – and the economic benefits for doing so are huge. So it’s fantastic to see the South West performing so strongly in an area that receives ever more attention from society as a whole.

She also cites the reasons behind why the South West and Wales perform so strongly. “Both have large hospitality sectors and a high concentration of public sector jobs, and both of these tend to have more balanced gender representation at all levels and hence smaller pay gaps.”

Internationally, however, the research reveals the UK is being outpaced by greater improvements in female employment prospects across 32 other OECD countries.

Although the UK performed above the OECD average and is second only to Canada when compared to other G7 economies, its current position (16th) has barely changed since 2000 when it stood at 17th position, despite improving its performance across all five indicators.

According to PwC analysis, more female participation in the workforce could increase the UK’s GDP by £189 billion.

Main photo of Heather Ancient provided by PwC.

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