18 months ago when we were deep in the recession I was analysing ONS employment data and along with everyone else, and agreeing that we were seeing a ‘Mancession’ men: were losing jobs much faster than women [ in both the UK and the USA]. We compared this to the two previous UK recessions, at the end of which a greater percentage of women were employed than at the start while men on the other hand were worse off with a smaller percentage in work at the end of each recession than the start. It looked like this recession was following a pattern of a changing workforce where the gap between the proportions of men and women in employment was closing. But now we have been hit by the recovery – or maybe we should call this the ‘Mancovery’. The pattern we have got used to has reversed.
Last week members of the UK Women’s Budget Group gave a presentation at the LSE, in which they demonstrated, with clear stats and incisive logic, that the effects of the UK government’s emergency budget of June 2010 and the comprehensive spending review, is hitting both women’s jobs and the public services and benefits that women depend on. Their calculations suggest that of the £81 billion to be raised through changes in personal taxes and benefits, almost 75% would be from women. Because women lost more in benefit and gained less from text breaks. Public service cuts hit single person and lone parent households most – and most of these are women and female pensioners.
Members of the Budget group- and Bea Campbell in her usual feisty way – questioned whether the UK policies are deliberately intended to return the UK to a male-breadwinner-family economy, because new policies are putting/care welfare work back into the family to be done by women while tax breaks and work incentives only operate for one earner in a family, second earners are ‘dis-incentivised’ from work. If this is part of the policy for a restructured UK economy we should prepared for restructured gender and family relationships. And for those of us in education: a return to gendered subject and career choices.