International mechanisms to revalue women's work: research

The report reviews different approaches to redress the undervaluation of women’s work and assesses their applicability to the Scottish employment context. The report finds that undervaluation of women’s work is a driver of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to alleviate this disparity.

Research Methods

The research is based firstly on desk research of existing largely grey and digital literature designed to identify the issues of women’s pay and conditions and pay determination mechanisms in the public, private and third sectors. The literature review takes an intersectional approach, highlighting the particular issues faced by different groups of women, such as older women, minority ethnic (ME) and disabled women. It also considers the impact of Covid-19 on women’s work (Appendix 2: Literature Review).

Secondly, the research is informed by seven interviews with key actors with expertise in equal pay at Scottish and wider international level. The semi-structured interviews were based on informed consent and recorded and transcribed.

Thirdly, the research produced 12 mini-case studies of mechanisms at international level that explicitly or implicitly revalued women’s work. In addition to the interviews with key actors outlined above, each of these case studies involved at least one interview with a key actor with appropriate expertise, plus documentary evidence, including government reviews of equal pay legislation, legislation itself, government and trade union guidance and collective bargaining agreements. Interviews were based on informed consent and recorded and transcribed. The case studies, presented in Appendix 1, outline:

1. The context and objectives of the mechanism

2. Implementation

3. Outcomes in terms of any uplift in women’s pay or terms and conditions

4. Any barriers to effective implementation

5. Potential to ensure long-term equal value pay outcomes in the Scottish context.

A dedicated meeting of the Project Steering Group for this research, which included key equality stakeholders, trade unions and civil society representatives, discussed and evaluated the extent to which the mechanisms identified might be replicable in the Scottish context.

Key criteria on which the evaluation was based included:

  • Devolved policy-making powers of the Scottish Government
  • The Scottish legal system
  • Institutional bodies, sectoral relationships and the role of the FWC
  • The specific characteristics of health and social care in Scotland
  • Intersectional impact – outcomes for different groups of women
  • The impact of Covid-19
  • The experience of measures to date to secure equal pay for work of equal value in Scotland



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