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Growth in the service sector helps women find jobs
Growth in the service sector helps women find jobsKeywords: Women, Service industries, Skills, Equal opportunities
Women are going to forge ahead in the twenty-first century, largely thanks to the growth of the service sector, says a new survey by the German IAB research institute. It points out that, when manufacturing lost 1,800,000 jobs from 1991 to 1997, 1,400,000 jobs were created in the same period and much the larger proportion went to women. This trend is expected to gain in momentum.
With this expansion, the number of executive and high-skill jobs will grow and women will be in the best position to benefit. In both traditional jobs and the new service sectors – in which health care is expected to grow strongly – less qualified staff stand to lose. The survey concludes, therefore, that, in "this decade of promise" women should use to the full the new educational opportunities opening up.
But, at the moment, the position is still not as good as it should be, with women in the private sector still earning less than men for doing the same job and finding it harder to win promotion.
Opening a discussion forum on equal opportunity in the workplace earlier this year, Frau Christine Bergmann, the German Minister for Women, said that these imbalances could make German business less competitive.
She claimed that women held only 6 per cent of higher managerial jobs in the largest corporations; in small- and medium-sized firms, the sector usually described in Germany as the Mittelstand, the proportion was better, but only to the extent that women held one-fifth of top jobs.
She said that, in trying to keep up with its foreign competitors, the country could not afford to bypass tapping the rich vein of women's talent in the business field. The policy of the current government for promoting equality was to do what was needed but to be as exact as possible – a minimum of intervention for a maximum of impact.
However, Frau Bergmann's suggestion that the German Government might go further and create a financial incentive by awarding public contracts to private firms that really promote the interests of their female employees, was not welcomed by business organisations, which said that criteria extraneous to awarding contracts on price and quality would do more harm than good. Instead, they reaffirmed their support to do yet more to make equal opportunity a reality.