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The gender representation gap: implications for workplace union effectiveness

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Publication details

JournalIndustrial Relations Journal
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Dec 2020
DatePublished (current) - 5 Feb 2021
Issue number1
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)40-63
Original languageEnglish


This article investigates how the gender of workplace representatives has implications for three dimensions of union effectiveness: (i) responsiveness to members, (ii) opportunity to influence management and (iii) ability to bring about change. Utilising original analysis of the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study, we examine three core elements of workplace employment relations processes that cut across the three dimensions: (i) workplace representation processes and employer support for union activity; (ii) substantive areas of representative involvement and (iii) quality of relations between union representatives and management, and between union representatives and employees. Our analysis highlights significant gender differences embedded in all three processes. The conclusion considers the broader implications of these findings for the gender equality project of British trade unions, beyond the objective of merely seeking to increase the numbers of women representatives.

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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