t's not their sex that keeps women off work

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Women tend to be absent from work more than men, but this has nothing to do with their gender, a conference on occupational psychology was told yesterday.

Penny Moyle, of Nuffield College, Oxford, told the British Psychological Society in Blackpool that a study of full-time staff at a major supermarket chain found senior personnel had better attendance records whatever their sex.

Dr Moyle said women filled more junior positions and those more likely to involve legitimate absence - for example, staff on a delicatessen counter would not be expected to work if they had a cold for fear of contaminating food, while "a senior executive flying a desk at company headquarters" would be.

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