Third sector offers more equality for women

New study highlights success of women in non-profits, but warns of a gender gap in other sectors
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Women who have to switch sectors may have difficulty finding parity with male colleagues

Female public sector workers who may have to transfer to the private sector because of the cuts could find gender inequalities significantly greater.

New research undertaken by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) found that gender inequalities in the third sector were less marked than in the public or private sectors. The third sector offers greater opportunities for women to establish and lead organisations, as well as to gain employment with higher rates of pay

However, gender inequalities were found to be significantly greater in the private sector than either the third or public sectors. This should provide a note of caution at a time when the government expect many jobs lost through public spending cuts to be transferred to private business, says the report.

Their report found that:

* Women made up 67% of the third sector workforce. This compares to 64% in the public sector and 40% in the private sector

* The proportion of women within the third sector attaining higher managerial positions was similar to that in the public sector, and much higher than in the private sector

* Women represented 50% of higher managers/professionals in the third sector. This compares to 46% in the public sector and 24% in the private sector.

* The pay gap between men and women was lower in the third sector than the public and private sectors.

* Among higher managers and professionals the gender pay gap almost disappears in the third sector.

* However, while the gender pay gap may be lower in the third sector, research finds that women at all levels are paid less than in the public sector.

TSRC researcher Steve McKay said "It is encouraging that the third sector, whilst small, seems to provide opportunities for women to advance to management positions. Of course these figures don't tell the whole story. We need to better understand the role of mitigating factors such as ethnicity and social class in determining pay and career success, as well as gendered differences in different types of third sector organisation.

"Further research will be undertaken by TSRC to help understand the motivations and experiences of a range of people working within the sector, including their career trajectories."

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