The DTI's Trade and Industry Committee has begun an inquiry into the effect of occupational segregation on the gender pay gap.
The Government said that one of the main problems in promoting equal pay between men and women is that many of the higher paid occupations tend to be dominated by men, while women form the majority of the workforce in lower paid occupations.
Government research shows that more than 60 per cent of all working women are concentrated in just 10 occupations, which typically pay the least. Although they make up 49 per cent of the workforce, they make up less than 10 per cent of employees in engineering, and just 1 per cent of employees in construction.
In October 2004, trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt announced a drive to help women who want to work in male-dominated sectors such as IT, construction, engineering and science.
"It is not the Government's job to dictate employment options to people, but we must give women more choice if we are to address the chronic pay gap.
"There are many women who want to get into science or manufacturing jobs, but are put off by the macho, male-dominated image, and the misconception that a woman simply couldn't do the job," she said.
The committee will take written evidence until Friday 28 January 2005 and aims to publish a report by the second week in March.
Evidence should be e-mailed to [email protected].
Women win right to cheaper car insurance
While the UK Government is working to end gender pay discrimination, the European Union's gender directive has been amended to give sex discrimination the all clear when it comes to car insurance.
The gender directive, which would have banned companies from offering cheaper insurance to women because they are safer drivers, comes into force later this year and aims to ensure equal treatment regardless of gender.