National Productivity Week 27th November 2023 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


Gender, part-time work and job polarisation: the productivity risks

This research builds on and develops the current Labour market polarization, human capital and regional productivity project led by Anthony Rafferty with the goals of remedying the lack of attention to gender issues within the current portfolio of TPI projects and contributing to a pressing current debate; how do more flexible forms of working, including part-time work and new forms of work post-Covid, impact on both gender equality and the UK’s productivity trajectory.

Raising women’s contributions to productivity takes on new importance now that the gains for growth from raising women’s labour market participation in recent decades are reducing as employment rates by gender converge. Women’s investments in education now equal or outstrip those of men but evidence indicates that their talents and capacities are underutilised and that their productive contributions may in some respects be undervalued.

This small project contributes to addressing these issues in three ways: first, it provides a state of knowledge overview on how productivity outcomes are influenced by gender differences in the labour market; second, it draws on the empirical work being undertaken on job polarisation to consider how recognising gender differences in pay affects our understanding of trends in the job mix; third, it explores the impacts of work organisation and working time on skills development and productivity. Here, data on wages and employment by sector and occupation will be used to explore how flexible and part-time working is affecting the development and utilisation of women’s talents and capacities.

In considering the implications for the productivity trajectory, the project will review the potential for post-Covid forms of remote and hybrid working to reduce gender divisions, while recognising both that these forms of working are only available to a minority of occupations and industries and bring a new risk of division between those working mainly from home and those returning to the office.

Project lead Jill Rubery (The University of Manchester)

Researchers Anthony Rafferty, Isabelle Bi (both The University of Manchester)

The University of Manchester