British Psychological Society occupational conference: Men 'use more initiative' when hunting for a job

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The Independent Online
UNEMPLOYED men display far more initiative in looking for jobs than women, according to the latest research. Males try a wider range of methods to get work than females and have a greater degree of self-esteem, the British Psychological Society's occupational psychology conference was told.

Men are more likely to have job applications pending, more likely to have studied job trends and asked for help from groups to which they belong. They are also show a greater readiness to join the Government's job clubs for the unemployed, where people are encouraged to search for work.

The author of the research, Michael Dunn, of the University of the West of England, told the conference in Birmingham: 'Unlike women, men will typically ring up for jobs or even go round to a company and see if there are any jobs going.'

He studied a group of 200 unemployed people in Bristol and found that women have a different interpretation of the word 'unemployed'.

'Many women say they would take a job if it came along, but do not regard themselves as unemployed,' he said. That might be because they were supported by a male in full-time employment.

He said that the official unemployment figures only counted those who are claiming benefit. The means of calculating the jobless figures have changed 30 times since 1979 and the inclusion of the phrase 'actively seeking' work may have counted against women. Although half the workforce are women, only between a third and a quarter of the jobless are female.

The disparity between men and women in their approach to looking for employment may be caused by the limited range of work that females often aspire to, Mr Dunn said.

Women's seeming reluctance to turn up to job clubs may be caused by the male- dominated environment at such gatherings. 'The unemployed always display lower self-esteem than those in work, and women show the lowest self-regard, so it is not surprising they do not appear with the same regularity as men.'

Mr Dunn said he hoped his study would lead to a greater sensitivity on the part of the Department of Employment in its attempts to help people back into work.

British Telecom, the country's biggest private-sector employer, saved about pounds 227m over two years as a result of a pounds 7m outlay on training its junior managers, the company's own psychologists have estimated. The training programme eliminated mistakes and reduced time-wasting.

The psychologists studied mistakes by a sample of 159 junior managers before training and then scrutinised their performance afterwards. The errors, which cost pounds 1.8m, included lost orders and the costs of remedial action. They estimate that the saving, extrapolated for all 19,000 junior managers, amounted to pounds 227m.