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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 00:03 GMT
Action call over sex segregation
Building workers
Few young women are training for the construction industry
Ministers have been urged to act after a study found that "sex segregation" still exists in training schemes.

Researchers found that the stereotype of men's and women's jobs persisted on the modern apprenticeship programme.

Only a tiny percentage of girls signed up for construction and engineering in Scotland and only four of the 1,200 plumbing apprentices were female.

Equal Opportunities Commission Scotland urged ministers to develop a national strategy to tackle the problem.

The research was carried out by a team from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Promoting the increased participation of young women is not enough to tackle inequality, we need to tackle segregation and promote non-traditional options
Dr Ailsa Mackay
Glasgow Caledonian University

It said that the barriers which prevented young people from taking up atypical careers included funding difficulties and the negative attitudes of friends, family and employers - particularly towards women.

The report said there were only 41 female modern apprentices in Scotland hoping to pursue a career in construction (1.2%) and 50 in engineering (2.4%).

The balance was reversed in childcare, where there were only 15 male apprentices (1.5%).

Researchers said the barriers to male recruitment in this sector included low pay and the negative attitudes and assumptions of childcare purchasers.

The report said that stereotypes about the appropriate jobs for men and women originated at an early age, with parents and careers advice the main influences.

'Women's work'

It also identified gender segregation as a major contributor to the pay gap between men and women, which stands at 15% for full-time employees in Scotland.

Dr Ailsa Mackay, of Glasgow Caledonian University, said the number of girls taking part in the modern apprentice (MA) programme had more than trebled since 2001.

"However, our research has shown that women remain concentrated in areas traditionally associated with 'women's work' and low rates of pay," she said.

The executive has to take action now and implement a national strategy that tackles sex segregation
Rowena Arshad
EOC Scotland

"Promoting the increased participation of young women in the MA programme is not enough to tackle inequality, we need to tackle segregation and promote non-traditional options."

EOC Scotland commissioner Rowena Arshad said the study showed that young people were still faced with barriers and stereotyped jobs choices.

"Segregation in the workplace benefits no-one - it limits individuals choices and damages the Scottish economy by failing to make use of the potential workforce," she said.

"It means that skills shortages and gaps develop in key areas such as childcare, plumbing, construction and engineering. It is bad for the country's overall productivity."

There was also a class divide, with segregation more apparent in manual trades than in areas like medicine and law.

"The executive has to take action now and implement a national strategy that tackles sex segregation - it is the only way to reduce inequality and increase productivity," Ms Arshad said.

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16 Nov 04 |  Scotland
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