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Only a third of senior-level roles held by women, says UK Commission for Employment and Skills

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If employers made the most of female staff, it could add 23 billion to the UK economy, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Research carried by the Commission found only a third of managers and senior officials are women. Two thirds of women work in 12 occupational areas (such as cleaning, retail and caring), while two thirds of men work in 26 occupational areas.

And the gender pay gap is currently 17.1% for those in full-time employment and for part- time staff there is a difference of 36% between the pay of men and women.

The research comes as the Women and Work Sector Pathways initiative announced £5 million of funding to help women in ‘male dominated' employment sectors.

Chris Humphries, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: "Removing barriers to employment and progression is always important and the Women and Work Sector Pathways initiative is designed to do just this, It has already benefited over 10,000 women, training them for a new job or new skills and allowing them to progress into more higher-level, better-paid roles and a further £5 million will now enable up to 5,000 more women.

"The initiative encourages more women to progress in traditionally male sectors including transport, construction and engineering. We are targeting all types of women - those whose skills are under-utilised, perhaps after returning to work after having children, and those who have the ability to progress to higher-level roles within the sector, but who lack skills or confidence. It is gratifying that research published this week shows the scheme is successful and is really making a difference to the lives of women across the country."