Studies indicate that gender differences continue to persist in the various dimensions of industrial occupations both in Kenya and other parts of the world. This is in spite of the various efforts undertaken including the enactment of the various gender-based laws, and policies. Despite some notable gains, women representation in wage employment remains low forming less than 30 % of wage employment in Kenya. In addition, despite the policies framework, including the two thirds rule in the constitution and the new labour laws, gender disparities in employment continue to persist leading to underutilization of human resources. The differentials tend to firmly favour men over women yet meaningful development can only be achieved if all players are not only represented but if their capacities are well utilized. While gender balance is wide in all aspects of social, economic and political life, this study examined gender disparities in industrial occupations in Kenya. The main objective of this study was to identify the levels and the factors that influence gender disparities at the selected organizations in the manufacturing, the service sector and the related trade unions in Kenya. The disparities were examined at three levels, namely; the operational, the management and the trade union. Although several factors influencing gender disparities at work have been enumerated, the study investigated their relative importance to the industrial occupations in the selected organizations and the respective trade unions in Kenya. The study was guided by the structuralism theory and the concepts of socialization, particularly the division of labor. The fundamental conceptual proposition was that social structure influence socialization which may lead to gender disparities and the related division of labour. The study used the descriptive survey research design to obtain data from the manufacturing and the service sector industries as well as the related trade unions. The four organizations selected from these industries were the East African Portland Cement Company, the Telkom Kenya Limited, the Kenya Chemicals and Allied Workers Union (KCAWU) and the Communications Workers Union (CWU). These companies have both a national and international outlook and provide an opportunity for examining gender disparities in an environment of modern technology and business process re-engineering (BPR). Primary data were obtained from 360 respondents drawn from operational, management and trade unions levels using interviews, questionnaires, while organizations‟ records were used for secondary data. The data was then coded and converted to numerical codes which represent the attributes of the various variables of the proposed study. The findings revealed that despite the many strategies employed, gender disparities continue to persist in formal employment in Kenya. The margins of disparities were seen to increase up the organizational hierarchy and at the trade unions levels. Organizational and social factors were identified as main causes of gender disparities in Kenya. Some of the identified possible causes of disparities include recruitment procedures, job descriptions, long working hours, lack of appeal systems in promotions, poor implementation of policies, lack of health and safety provisions for expectant mothers, and family responsibilities. The key recommendations made included the introduction of the flexi-time working arrangements, enforcement of the two third rule at all organizational levels, introduction of the nomination in the election of trade union officials and regular labour inspections by the ministry in charge of labour.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.0 Background Information
While several organizations and agencies, both local and international, have devoted substantial efforts in enhancing gender equality at work, including the formulation and enactment of gender policies, affirmative action and gender-based campaigns, studies continue to indicate that gender disparities are persistent and have led to sexual division of labour and under-utilization of women‟s economic potential in organizations (Marara, 2006).
A report by the World Bank on the third Millennium Development Goal (MDG3) observes that sexual division of labour firmly favours men over women (World Bank, 2006). The report maintains that sexual division of labour has led to differences in both horizontal and vertical dimensions of organizational occupations. It defines vertical gender segregation as the tendency for women to be concentrated to the lower levels of the occupational hierarchy in terms of wages, status and authority while horizontal gender segregation according to Bilton et al., (2002) is the tendency for men and women to be separated into different types of jobs with women mainly in the personal service industries and men in the manufacturing and construction.
Further, much of the work performed by women is unpaid, which is an outcome of the traditional division of labour (IFPRI, 2008). A report by the United Nations
(2008) observes that “no more than one-fifth of the world‟s wages accrue to women because fewer women than men work for wages, are engaged in the low-paying sectors and even in these sectors, they are paid less than men doing the same job” (UN, 2008). Kimani (2006) observes that women tend to do more unpaid work while men do more paid work leading to inequality in economic power between men and women in the family and the society as a whole. Even in agriculture more women than men work in subsistence farming (IFPRI, 2008).
The current gender disparities in occupations can be traced to the early forms of economic production (McIntosh, 1997). According to Hall and Geiban (1992), some tasks were considered by the pre-industrial societies appropriate only for women while others were exclusively for men. According to Nanda (1991), men were hunters while women were gatherers.
With industrialization, division of labour was transferred from the family to the work place (Foner, 1972). Women engaged in the service sector occupations such as nursing and teaching while men were represented in manufacturing-related occupations such as construction, crafts and engineering. Even more interestingly, differential wages emerged. Women were poorly paid and according to Foner (1972), even the early trade unions in the USA did not permit women as members because this would encourage employers to reduce the salaries for the male members.
At present, not much has changed from the early industrial revolution with reports
continuing to indicate experiences of gender disparities in various parts of the world (DeNavas-Walt et al., 2005). In the USA, women comprised less than 5% of senior executive positions in both the corporate organizations and unions in 1998 (AJSS, 1999). Even by 2004, women‟s wages in the US was only 76.5% of that of men (DeNavas-Walt et al., 2005). Today, the median income of Full Time Yearly Rate (FTYR) male workers in US stands at $40,798 compared to $31,223 for female workers (US Labor Statistics, 2008).