Why is Women’s Work Low-Paid? Establishing a framework for understanding the causes of low pay among professions traditionally dominated by women

Publication date

10 Nov 2017

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This discussion paper was commissioned by Oxfam’s UK Programme to understand why certain occupations in the UK labour market, traditionally dominated by women, are low-paid. The paper argues that jobs associated with traditional and outdated notions of ‘women’s role in the home’ extends into the jobs market. This affects attitudes towards remuneration in professions such as cleaning and caring.

The paper sets out a framework for understanding the risks of low pay and to explore the issue of the undervaluing of low-paid jobs with respect primarily to women. The author calls these the five ‘V’s: visibility, valuation, vocation, value-added and variance, and sets out a possible series of policy responses.