Women lose out when partners switch jobs

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The Independent Online

Women still lose out when couples move for career reasons because, despite increasing equality, the man's job is considered more important.

Women still lose out when couples move for career reasons because, despite increasing equality, the man's job is considered more important.

Economists at Warwick University found that men hardly ever move for their wives' careers, but women are more flexible, sacrificing their own opportunities for their partners'. Traditional views on family roles, and the fact that on average women earn less than men, have led to a lack of job mobility for married women.

Professor Andrew Oswald,author of the study, said traditional views on the importance of men's and women's work played a part, as low paid men still persuade wives to move. "The truth is if you are a woman and you want to move around with your career, you had better stay single," he said."Women automatically suffer when they move for their partners' jobs because they are forced to take less senior jobs with less prospects."

The study of 15,000 British workers shows that single women are 25 per cent more likely to move than married. For men, having a wife makes no difference to their readiness to move for a better paid job.

The researchers used information from the British Household Panel Study, and from the National Child Development Study, which provides data on all people born in a particular week in 1958.

A spokesperson for the Equal Opportunities Commission said: "On average women still get paid less than men, and when couples are making decisions about their joint financial future, on a law of averages they are more likely to move for the higher income.

"Equal pay could remove this gender bias and make men as willing to move for their wives' careers as their own. We would not want to see companies discriminating against married women because they think they won't move for their job," she said.

About three in a hundred Britons move home for work reasons each year. They account for 14 per cent of all residential movers and 6 per cent of those who change employer.

Anne Heald, a 35-year-oldgraduate, was set for an executive post in exports when husband Ed, who works for the Ministry of Defence, said in 1995 he was being moved from London to Bristol. Mrs Heald said she was forced to settle for a dead end job.

"My husband's earning potential was greater than mine, so we knew the move was the only option. I thought I would walk into a similar job without any trouble" she said.

"I though I was so multi-skilled I would walk into another job at the same level. I spent four months looking for work in Bristol and was absolutely astonished that there was nothing for me here.

"I can't say that I'm not jealous at times. My husband's career has sky-rocketed, whereas as far as I'm concerned I have come to terms with the fact I will never fulfil my potential."

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