Green box with blue text ‘Research spotlight’ over image of Professor Tracey Warren. On right, dark blue box with NUBS and 25 year logo. Text: International Women’s Day. Women’s work matters. Professor Tracey Warren focusses on addressing the grand challenges facing society. Green text, Research - Innovate – Impact

March 5, 2024, by aczht

Women’s work matters by Professor Tracey Warren

International Women’s Day 2024 

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day, Friday 8 March 2024, throughout the week and highlighting the great work carried out by our academics, alumni, business partners and students at the Nottingham University Business School. International Women’s Day 2024 focuses on celebrating achievements, raising awareness of discrimination, and taking action for gender parity. By inspiring others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we contribute to building a better world.  

Spotlight on… Professor Tracey Warren 

As a member of the Work, Employment and Organisation Research Group (WEORG), Professor Tracey Warren’s research encompasses working lives, work-time, work-life balance, underemployment, job quality, financial hardship, and policies for equality. 

Women’s work matters – Shaping a better future of employment 

In this blog, Tracey talks about her research on working lives:  

Women’s work is vital but too often it is taken for granted and/or undervalued. To shape a better, fairer and more resilient world of employment, we need to ‘Recognise, Reduce, Redistribute unpaid work so that its load does not fall so heavily on women. 

On International Women’s Day (IWD) we remember that women do more work than men. When you add together the time women spend in work, unpaid and paid work, inside and outside the home, every day and across their lifetimes, we realise that their vital work is often undervalued and taken for granted. Women’s work matters. 

In a range of research projects across my career, I have focused on the changes over time and continuities in women’s and men’s working lives. One notable change across generations is that paid work is now the norm for both women and men in the UK. Yet one significant continuity is that women workers still retain the major responsibility for the unpaid work and caring responsibilities that are needed within the home. A result of this ‘second shift’ of unpaid work is that – although most women of working age are in paid work – their typical work patterns stand apart from those more standard among men.  

In my research on part-time working – including Good, bad and very bad part-time jobs for women – I show that part-time working is far more prevalent among women than it is among men. Many female part-time workers report that the reason they work part-time is to help them balance the demands of work with the responsibilities at home. But part-time jobs tend to pay less per hour than full-time jobs, and they offer fewer benefits and opportunities for advancement, with short- and longer-term consequences for part-time workers’ careers and financial security.  

Underemployment in the UK 

A collaborative project currently underway The Underemployment Project – is showing that women workers are at risk of time, wage and skills-based underemployment. Working with Nottingham Citizens (an alliance of over 30 organisations in Nottingham) and three other UK city partners, we are finding that women employees are more likely than men to report:  

  • having insufficient hours of employment 
  • earning low wages  
  • that they are employed below their potential: they have more skills than their current jobs require. 

Being underemployed has serious negative ramifications for women workers and their families. When people can’t work enough hours to earn a decent income, they might struggle to cover basic needs. Working fewer hours and earning less money makes it hard to save money for unexpected expenses, treats and for retirement. We see more in-work poverty among women than men, with financial penalties accumulating for women into their older age. 

Inequalities among working women 

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the essential work performed by women. As two recent research projects revealed, Carrying the work burden of Covid-19, the pandemic also exposed and intensified deep inequalities among women. Joint research with the Women’s Budget Group, Professor Clare Lyonette and Dr Luis Torres from the Nottingham University Business School showed that Covid-19 created job loss, work instability, financial hardship, and great insecurity. It generated deep problems for much of the working population in the UK, but it also impacted in starkly different ways on different groups of workers.  

It was found working class women carried a heavy burden of the extra physical and emotional labour being generated by pandemic pressures.  

Read more: 

For more information in the blog, click on the following links: 

Professional profiles  

Centres and groups


University of Nottingham – Research repository  

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