In their quest to find employment more women than men now work in Britain than ever before. This is how The Times reported news from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that women are returning to the workplace in their droves. But why have the statistics increased so significantly and so quickly?
The number of women in employment jumped by 15,000 in just three months, between January and March this year, compared with the previous three months.
Although this is great news in one sense there are many things to consider. For example, the ONS says the increase in the figures is due to the number of stay-at-home mothers returning to work because of the difficult economic climate along with those who are continuing to work following an increase in the state retirement age.
Figures for men, however, show a completely different trend. The number of men in work has fallen in the same period by 58,000 to 15.8 million over the same period.
Although in general terms it’s great to see more women in the workplace, some women return to work or continue to work beyond the state retirement age because they have no choice.
It’s not just those who work beyond the state retirement age but also single parents who face significant pressure to return to work after the benefit rules changed. And for some women it may help and encourage them back into the workplace, but for others it can make balancing home and work incredibly hard as it also is for many two parent families.
Finally, more women are happier than men to take on part-time roles which can work very well. Earlier this month, the Telegraph published a list of its top 10 women who have forged a successful career path working part-time. For employers who accept that they can get as much value from those working part-time or on a flexible basis it’s an exciting time, and the list published by the Telegraph is inspirational in many ways.
Flexible working offered by agreeable employers is of course a huge help, but for women who undertake part-time work rather than flexible work it can present many challenges. Women face many more challenges than men in the workplace, and flexible working, far from being detrimental to the employer, is beneficial to both sides.