New working paper: Shifting the Balance? Exploring the trade union responses to tackling gendered occupational segregation

Close the Gap has recently launched a new working paper, Shifting the Balance? Exploring the trade union responses to tackling gendered occupational segregation, which aims to assess what work is being undertaken by trade unions to address occupational segregation.

This paper reveals that a small minority of trade unions have been involved in preliminary small-scale efforts to engage on the issue of occupational segregation, but that these efforts are not part of a strategic programme to tackle the issue. Although there is some awareness of the issues around occupational segregation amongst some unions, there is a great need to raise awareness of the issue and its wider impact on women and workplaces.

The paper was launched at an event on 18 February 2014 at the STUC and prompted extensive discussion among the delegates. At the event we heard from Equality Officer Lee James about ASLEF’s campaign to address the under-representation of women among train drivers. Concerns over the lack of diversity within the driving grade prompted ASLEF to fund the independent ‘On Track with Diversity’ Report in 2012. ASLEF have used the report as a lever to open dialogue with train operating companies regarding joint working over their recruitment processes, and they have also been involved in positive discussions over part time working, which is a fundamental shift for the industry.

There is scope for unions to do a lot more on occupational segregation, and any activity must be much more strategic, with measurable outcomes, if women are to achieve equality in the workplace. The paper discusses the causes and impacts of occupational segregation, the challenges facing trade unions in addressing it, and presents examples of individual union activity on the issue.

Close the Gap has also identified a number of opportunities for trade unions to engage on work around occupational segregation. If you would like more information on how you can get involved please contact us.

Hard copies are available from

Comments: 0 (Add)