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Employment conditions

Modified on 2013/05/16 14:02 by Haoyi Chen Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Work
From gender issues to gender statistics on employment conditions: illustrative examples

Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Are women concentrated in sectors and occupations that are usually low paid? Industry (branch) of economic activity by sex Occupation by sex Population census Household surveys such as LFS (Labour Force Survey)
Do women have the same chances as men to be in managerial positions? Occupation by sex Population census Household surveys such as LFS
Are women more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment? Status in employment by sex Population census Household surveys such as LFS
Are women more often than men found in unregulated and unprotected employment with no contract and no benefits? Employment and informal employment by sex Surveys on informal sector and informal employment, LFS that include a module on informal employment
Do women get paid as much as men? Is the gender pay gap closing? Wages or earnings by sex, detailed occupation, educational attainment and years of seniority. Statistics needed for at least two points in time.

Household surveys such as LFS

  • + Gender issues
    • Women and men have different employment conditions and different opportunities for career advancement (United Nations, 2010). Women are usually overrepresented in the agricultural sector and low-paid occupations. In contrast, managerial positions and other positions of decision-making are less accessible to women. When it comes to status in employment, women are less likely than men to have regular jobs with contracts providing security and stable conditions. Instead, they are more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment as contributing family workers, with insecure employment, low earnings and low productivity. Women may also be found more often than men among the underemployed, working fewer hours than desired or working in low-paid jobs that underutilize their skills.

      The representation in the informal employment is different for women than for men. More men than women tend to be in informal employment; however, larger share of female employment tends to concentrate in informal jobs (ILO, 2011b). These jobs are unregulated and unprotected, with no written contracts, social protection or benefits. Women may turn to informal employment for different reasons than men. The working conditions – status in employment and income, in particular – may also be different. In addition, women in informal employment may have an increased risk of being exposed to violence and harassment (United Nations Statistics Division, 2001). Women tend to earn less than men (United Nations, 2010). Women’s income tends to be lower than men’s income. First, women are less often employed than men and they receive no direct pay for their work on household chores. Second, a larger proportion of women than men are employed as unremunerated contributing family workers. Third, when working in paid employment, women on average receive lower wages than men. The wage gap may reflect differences in occupation and sectoral segregation and number of hours worked, but also gender discrimination in payment for the same job.

  • + Data needed
    • Industry (branch) of economic activity by sex

      Occupation by sex

      Status in employment by sex

      Informal employment by sex

      Number of hours worked by sex

      Underemployed by sex

      Wages or earnings by sex and detailed occupation

      Additional breakdowns may be available, especially when the statistics are collected through household surveys and censuses. In addition to sex, age and level of educational attainment are two most basic individual characteristics useful for understanding women’s and men’s type of occupation or level of earnings. Together with years of seniority in employment, these variables are crucial in assessing whether women’s concentration in low-paid jobs is due to less experience or gender discrimination. Other family and household characteristics are also useful. Marital status, the number of young children or other household members in need for care, or employment of the partner may explain some gender differences in status in employment or number of hours worked. Nevertheless, commonly available characteristics such as urban/rural areas or geographical areas can be used as breakdown variables for status in employment, informal employment and underemployment to better understand employment conditions for women and men in specific types of labour markets.

  • + Examples of indicators derived from gender statistics on employment conditions:
    • Share of women in agricultural sector

      Share of women among legislators, senior officials and managers

      Proportion of vulnerable employment (own account and contributing family workers) in total employment by sex

      Proportion of employed who are own-account workers, by sex

      Proportion of employed who are working as contributing family workers by sex

      Proportion of employed who are employers, by sex

      Proportion of informal employment in total non-agricultural employment by sex

      Ratio of female to male earnings in manufacturing


  • + Sources of data
    • Labour force survey usually collect data on employment (or in some cases, labour force) by industry, occupation, status in employment, hours worked, institutional sector of employment, and employment-related income. Labour force surveys may also collect additional information on the individual and his/her household characteristics, necessary to understand women’s and men’s positions on the labour market. Subjective information on reasons for choosing a particular job may also be collected.

      Population censuses usually collect data on labour force, industry, occupation and status in employment. In a small number of countries, population censuses also collect data on employment-related income and time worked.

      Surveys on informal sector and informal employment Modules on informal economy. Modules on informal employment may be attached to labour force surveys, or multi-purpose household surveys.

      Establishment censuses or surveys are a source of data on paid employment by industry, formal working time, and earnings or wages.

      Administrative records can be used as a source of data on earnings or wages in the public sector.


  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • Occupation and status in employment are often not recorded with enough detail. Differences in forms of work carried out by women and men and specific employment conditions can be assessed properly only when occupation and status in employment are measured in detail. An occupation is defined by the tasks and duties of a given job and the skill level necessary to carry out those tasks and duties involved. It is recommended that a detailed classification is used to collect data on occupations. Sub-major groups, minor and unit groups within the ISCO (International Standard Classification of Occupations) may be used to explore in depth the occupations where women and men are over- or under-represented. It is important that those details are not compacted into major occupation groups by coding or processing data.

      Status in employment refers to the type of explicit or implicit contract of employment an individual has with his or her employer or other persons or organizations. Criteria used in the classification of status in employment refer to (a) economic risk (where the strength of the attachment between the person and the job is the main element) and (b) authority over establishment or other workers (International Labour Office, 1993). Such criteria are essential in differentiating employment conditions for women and men. Women are less likely than men to be attached formally and on a continuous basis to a particular job and they are less likely to be in a position of authority over the establishment or other workers.

      It is recommended that status in employment data are collected and disseminated separately for employees and each of the four categories of self-employment: employers, own-account workers, contributing family workers and members of producers’ cooperatives. Besides the five main categories of status in employment, other groups were specified within the ICLS resolution concerning the International Classification of Status in Employment (International Labour Office, 1993). Those groups are subcategories of the five main categories of status in employment or they cut across two or more categories. Such groups may be relevant for some countries and from a gender perspective. For example, “owner-managers of incorporated enterprises” and “employees with stable contracts” may be groups with under-representation of women. “Casual workers”, “short-term workers”, “seasonal workers” – all part of “workers in precarious employment”; and “subsistence workers” may be groups with over-representation of women. When relevant, efforts should be made to collect data on those groups in addition to the five standard categories of employment.

      Women may be misclassified in status in employment categories. Inadequate measurement of status in employment with impact on gender statistics may derive from misclassification of jobs. For example, according to international guidelines, women who work in association and on an equal footing with their husbands in a family enterprise should be classified in the same status in employment category as their husbands, either “own account workers” or “employers”. However, women in these situations are sometimes classified as contributing family workers (Mata-Greenwood, 2003). Caution should also be exercised to avoid misrepresentation of the status in employment when a person has two or more jobs during the reference period, a situation which may be more relevant for women than for men. The status in employment should refer to the job at which “he/she has worked the longest hours, or which has provided the highest income from employment” (International Labour Office, 1993). Depending on the criteria used – time or income – women may be recorded, for example, as “contributing family workers” (when most time is spent on that job) or as “own-account workers” (when income obtained from that job is perceived as more significant).

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