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In her sixth article for SHP, Dr Helen Beers explains why the changing nature of work will affect men and women in different ways.
Previous articles, based on horizon scanning by the Foresight Centre at HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory, have covered how the nature of work and also the age profile of the workforce are changing.
However, there are also other changes taking place which relate to the gender balance within the workforce.
Women’s workforce participation is increasing faster than men’s and their role is growing in importance as greater numbers of women attain higher level jobs.
Between 2010 and 2020, 56% of the net increase in jobs is expected to be filled by women. By 2020 women aged from 65 to 69 are as likely to be in paid employment as men of that age, and by 2022 the percentage of 65-69 year old women in work is expected to rise to 37%.
Night shifts and antisocial hours are types of working pattern in which the gender balance is changing. Currently more men than women work night shifts, but women are catching up, and there has been a significant rise in the numbers of women working antisocial hours.
As the workforce continues to become more diverse, the scale and nature of risks from work and the working environment may potentially change, and an increased emphasis on gender differences may be required when considering health and safety at work.
Dr Helen Beers joined HSL in 2009 with responsibility for leading HSL’s social research work. She is currently the Technical Team Lead within HSL’s Foresight Centre, where her work focuses on demographics and ageing. Helen has a PhD in Health Psychology and prior to joining HSL worked within the health, education and finance sectors.