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29 / 06 / 2004
Experts say that the current labor market is designed for men

Speakers in the Dialogue “Work Cultures” agree on the need to change the traditional concepts of the workplace, as at the moment the segregation of women continues

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Jill Rubery, from the Manchester School of Management in the United Kingdom, Cecilia Castaño, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Saida-Dorra Maafoudh Draoui, from the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the University of Tunis, this morning discussed their theories about bringing more women into the workforce and ways in which the current workplace guidelines can be redesigned to exclude the tendency towards the segregation of women.

Nevertheless the theories agree in as much as that “the current labor market is designed for men, as it was developed at a time when women were not generally involved in the workforce as they are now and the bosses were usually male, full-time, and head of the family, without home making responsibilities.

For this reason are needed “new types of guidelines and formal institutions governing the labor market, taking into account these changes in the worldwide labor market”, according to Saida Dorra Maafoush, from the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the University of Tunis. She added that “it cannot be left to the labor market itself to make the decisions required for change, but instead it is necessary to go a step further than the traditional type of collective bargaining.”

In her opinion “a different training and social security system is necessary because the current one is under constant strain and this makes it difficult for women to combine work and family responsibilities.”

Saida Dorra Maafoudh deplored the fact that some countries “encourage women to emigrate, because as emigrants overseas they find work more easily and send money back to their families and this only perpetuates the traditional role of women.

In her talk at the seminar entitled “Bringing women into the workforce”, Jill Rubery, from the Manchester School of Management in the United Kingdom, put forward the theory that “women must assume masculine values if they want to take on the positions traditionally occupied by men”. And although she recognized it is not ideal at present it is the only way possible, and that is by bringing more women into the workforce”. Nevertheless she emphasized that “flexible working hours for women are not as favorable as it would seem, because the system reduces the salaries of women as well as men, and some companies offer flexible hours because it is convenient for them”.

Cecilia Castaño, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, put forward her theory that, “the labor market is not ready for change, the traditional role of women relegates women to bad working conditions and poor wages”. She pointed out that “in Spain where there is the least flexibility in working conditions, there are sectors that resist the recruitment of more women, for example the sectors of information technology, industry and education”.

In her opinion, “there is currently less horizontal segregation - that means there are more women who are able to get more jobs, in various sectors - but there is still vertical segregation, which means they are unable to get into higher positions and salaries continue to be lower. The Dialogue “Work Cultures” continues until Thursday 1 July.