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Female Employment at Record High

14 March 2015 

The First Minister reflects on progress and challenges at International Women's Day event
The gap between male and female employment rates in Scotland has fallen to a record low, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

A new report, 'Maximising Economic Opportunities for Women in Scotland', found that as well as the falling gap between male and female employment rates, the female employment rate at the end of 2014 was 72.4 per cent, above the UK rate of 68.5 per cent, the highest level and rate since records began.

The report also concluded that women-led businesses also make a substantial contribution to the Scottish economy, estimated to be a minimum of £5 billion in Gross Value Added terms.

While progress is being made, the report highlighted that a number of barriers still constrain the ability of women to realise their full economic potential.

Speaking at the Scottish Women's Convention's annual celebration of International Women's Day in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said:

"Women's employment has risen very significantly. It's now at record levels. In fact, Scotland currently has the second highest female employment rate in the whole of the European Union. Only Sweden is ahead of us.

"The gap between male and female employment - four percentage points - is the lowest it has ever been. To put that into some sort of perspective, the gap in the UK as a whole is 10 percentage points.

"So we shouldn't underestimate what has been achieved in recent years. But all of us know, that it's not nearly enough. Although the gap between male and female employment is four percentage points, that includes many part-time workers. In full-time equivalent terms, the gap is actually 15 percentage points.

"Underemployment is higher in women, and women are underrepresented in senior positions and in careers such as engineering. The pay gap between men and women is 9 per cent. And 57 per cent of women in employment in Scotland are in lower skilled occupations, compared to only 37 per cent of men. The unpaid work carried out by women is also hugely undervalued.

"There's an increasing recognition - not just in Scotland, but around the world - that this is a significant economic problem, as well as a social one. Countries which fail to provide opportunities for women, are constraining their ability to grow."

Source: Scottish Government

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