Introducing ‘Women & Work’ from CEDA
News, research, data, and recommendations about women and work - curated by our team
Welcome to the very first edition of CEDA’s newsletter ‘Women & Work’!
Each month, this newsletter will bring you a round-up of important news from India and the world to help you stay updated on all things women and work. We will also bring you a snapshot of new research on the topic, crunch some numbers to give you a data point to mull over, along with reading recommendations and a trip down the history lane.
We hope that ‘Women & Work’ will evolve to be a platform that can provoke, stimulate and amplify conversations about women’s participation in paid work in India.
At the Centre for Economic Data & Analysis, we are working on an ambitious project to understand and find ways to overcome the demand-side barriers that are keeping women out of the workforce. We will also share updates about our research from time to time.
Before we begin, a small request: We are new and just getting started. Please help us grow by sharing this newsletter with your friends, colleagues, students and on your social media!
🗞️In The News
The International Labour Organization (ILO) released its flagship report ‘World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023’ earlier this month.
The organisation estimates that in 2022, the global jobs gap stood at 473 million people, corresponding to a jobs gap rate of 12.3 per cent. ‘Jobs gap’ comprises those who are unemployed as well as those who are not in the labour force because they do not satisfy the criteria to be considered employed. It notes:
“This jobs gap is particularly large for women and in developing countries. Although men and women currently face similar global unemployment rates, the jobs gap for women is 15.0 per cent, compared with 10.5 per cent for men.”
Predicting trends for 2023, the organisation cautions that employment growth is likely to slow down this year, with global unemployment likely “to edge up slightly…by around 3 million, to reach 208 million”.
The Indian government has made digital attendance mandatory for those working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from this month. Women, who are less likely to have access to the internet and smartphones, are struggling to meet the requirement, a report in The New Indian Express suggests. Some women are dropping out as a consequence, the news report says.
Which is the best city for working women in India? Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, according to a report on inclusive cities by Avtar, an organisation that works on workplace inclusion. Released earlier this year, the report ranks 111 Indian cities based on their social and industrial inclusion scores. Chennai was followed by Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Read the full report here.
Thirty percent of public sector jobs in the state of Uttarakhand will now be reserved for women. The state assembly passed the Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022 during its Winter Session, and the bill got the Governor’s approval earlier this month. The move has been in the making for several years now. Read more here.
Far away, Sierra Leone too will reserve 30 percent senior-level jobs for women. A new law has paved the way for quotas for women in politics and in jobs, and has also mandated equal pay and maternity leave for a minimum of 14 weeks.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to step down from her role citing burnout has triggered a global conversation on the subject, inviting adulation and solidarity, especially from women.
“I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along,” Ardern said while announcing her decision.
“Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice,” she added.
We have hardly ever seen men in power admit that they did not have a “full tank” – even when they are doing a lousy job as leaders. Ardern’s frank admission is both a reflection of her honesty as well as of the fact that even powerful women are not free of the onerous demands of the domestic sphere. (Priya Ramani reflected on Ardern's announcement in The Indian Express, and we highly recommend reading it!)
Many of us may have used a job portal to look for a job at some point in our lives. But have you ever wondered if and how the wording of job postings could have a gendered impact?
To understand gender discrimination at the hiring level, researchers Sugat Chaturvedi, Kanika Mahajan and Zahra Siddique (2022), analysed over 150,000 jobs posted on an online job portal in India between July 2018 and February 2020. Over a million applicants applied for these jobs and a total of 6.45 million applications were received over this period.
Seven percent of all the jobs mentioned an explicit preference for a male or female candidate, the researchers found. Even where a job posting did not mention a gender preference explicitly, the authors used machine learning and text analysis to uncover such a preference by analysing how the postings were worded and whether there was an “implicit femaleness or maleness” in the wording.
They found that while jobs with higher skill requirements were less likely to have a gender preference, jobs with a clear preference for female candidates had higher education requirements but offered lower wages than those with a preference for men. Consequently, women ended up applying to jobs with lower wages than men even when they had the same education, were of the same age, and were from the same state of residence, with the gender wage gap at the application stage at four percent.
Using decomposition methods they found that explicit gender requests along with implicit gender associations explained 17 percent of the gender wage gap.
“The gender wage gap in applications we study is important,” conclude the authors, adding, “[g]ender differences at an early career stage for the job-seekers…[are] likely to have important cumulative consequences for future labour market returns, and result in persistent gender wage gaps.”
Not too encouraging now, is it? Read their paper here.
Of the millions of workers who work in India’s factories, less than a fifth (19.7 percent) were women, data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) 2019-20 shows. In some states, the share was even more skewed.
Manipur is the only state with a gender-balance among those working in its manufacturing sector, while Chhattisgarh has the most gender-skewed industrial workforce with women making up just 2.9 percent of those working in its manufacturing units (Analysis: Dhruvika Dhamija/CEDA).
Think | The visible and invisible barriers to Indian women working, The India Forum
Think more | Is maternity leave still a career killer? The Financial Times’ Isabel Berwick spoke to Janine Chamberlin, UK country manager, LinkedIn. Listen/read here
Feel hopeful | How UN Women and a civil society organisation are helping women market vendors in the Democratic Republic of Congo register their businesses, obtain key market support and access state services
This is a table from ‘Towards Equality’, the report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (1974). The seminal report which has been termed as a “founding text” for the women’s movement in India (Tharu and Lalitha, 1991), played a key role in mobilising researchers, activists and various groups into action on issues impacting women in the country (Khullar, 2005).
The table above appears on Page 153 of the report and is preceded by this observation:
“The long term trend in economic participation of women indicates an overall decline both in percentage of workers to total female population and in their percentage to the total labour force after 1921. When we look to their distribution in different sectors of the economy, however, there are significant variations. Explanations of these trends have to be found in the totality of interconnected factors both a) during the pre-1947 and post-1947 period separately, and b) the nature of development of our economy from the first to the second period.”
Reading this in 2023 definitely made us pause and think about the progress we have made on this front. How did it make you feel? Tell us!
For those who’d like to read more, an online version of the ‘Towards Equality’ report is available on the website of Partners in Law and Development here.
That’s all from us for this edition. Thank you for reading! We will see you next month. In the meantime, if you have feedback, questions, tips, or just want to say hello, feel free to do so by replying to this email, or drop in a word at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curated by: Akshi Chawla for the Centre for Economic Data & Analysis (CEDA), Ashoka University. Illustration and design by: Nithya Subramanian
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