Gender pay gap decreases in rural areas

Published Thursday, 15th November 2018 in Research news

Gender pay gap decreases in rural areas
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon, pictured during a recent visit to Barony, has welcomed the findings

The gender pay gap in rural, island and remote areas has decreased over the last decade.

SRUC research commissioned by the Scottish Government indicates that in 2017 women in remote parts of the country had the lowest annual income on average, however women in accessible rural areas had the highest income of all female employees in Scotland.

A number of factors appear to be behind this, such as employment in low-paid sectors, higher levels of part-time working, reduced mobility and the dominance of micro businesses in rural, remote and island areas.

Welcoming the research, Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “It is clear from this research that while there is much still to be done to eliminate the gender pay gap in our rural and remote communities, I’m encouraged that since 2008 the pay gap has decreased at an even faster rate than the overall national average.

“It also lays bare the scale of the challenge before us and the need to make sure our rural economy better supports women retain and gain well paid jobs. So, while progress is to be welcomed, the rate of change remains slower than in urban areas and is unacceptable for a modern, inclusive nation. Equality for women is an integral part of our inclusive growth vision and we are determined to improve the positon of women in the workplace

Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “I welcome this interim report, which shows that to tackle the gender pay gap, raise family incomes and grow our economy, we need to better support women in employment, or to return to the workplace. That’s why we are investing £5 million over the next three years to support around 2,000 women return to work and a further £205,000 to challenge and change employment practices and workplace cultures. With the research showing the key role public services play in the rural economy, there are obvious opportunities to ensure that women are paid equally and fairly.”

SRUC Rural Policy Centre Manager Jane Atterton, who is leading the project, said: “Our research is exploring a number of reasons that might explain the gender pay gap in rural areas. These reasons include the large proportion of females working part-time and more limited formal childcare options. We are looking to submit the final report in the very near future and a key component of this will be setting out our recommendations for further work in this important area.”

The report is due to be published next month.

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