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Working conditions in women’s football

A recent report into the state of the women’s game is just one of a number of research briefings recently published by the Work & Equalities Institute.

Women’s football – FIFPro Global Employment Report

As shown by the recent World Cup, women’s football is growing in popularity and status, with increasing participation, professionalisation and media attention across the world. But until recently not much was known about the working conditions for professional and amateur players.

This briefing, which explores the first comprehensive study of the women’s game, finds an occupation fighting for a stable footing. It shows that a professional football career for women is hard to sustain in the face of low pay, a lack of contractual support, and commitments away from the pitch. It highlights the need for changes in the way women are supported to play for club and country, and makes recommendations to prevent the majority leaving the game early, which many are forced to do.

The report says there is a lack of support for women footballers and so they struggle to see it as a viable career, while nearly 90 per cent of players say they are considering leaving the game early.

Low pay is also an issue with most salaries well under $2,000 a month, while players get paid less as they get older and many players working alongside their football commitments. Compared to the men’s game, there is also a lack of contractual and agent support, and contracts become more precarious as players get older.

Emotion, stress and burnout – don’t write off older workers

People working in organisations are getting older and jobs with direct customer contact are growing; at the same time, people over the age of 50 are subject to ongoing challenges around age discrimination, despite frameworks in place to protect them.

This briefing looks at how older workers in the service sector deal with emotion regulation, stress and burnout. It joins a raft of previous research which supports the notion that people get better at dealing with certain professional situations and challenges with age. They can draw on experience, changing motivations and their professional ability to create more authentic connections with customers and colleagues.

The message of the study is clear: older workers are better at using emotion regulation strategies, are more engaged, and less prone to burn out than younger colleagues. Their life experiences and ability to anticipate situations enable them to respond more authentically, and with more empathy, which reduces the need to fake emotion in challenging situations in front of customers.

The researchers found no evidence that older workers get worse with age. In fact, they suggest the opposite: that people’s enhanced emotional competency in the workplace means they are valuable employees and well placed to take on customer service roles as they get older.

Global value chains –South African fruit sector

Global networks of production and consumption have created opportunities for suppliers to source products from around the world, but they have placed pressure on producers, and the workers they employ.

This case study of the South African fruit sector, part of a wider body of work by academics from across The University of Manchester exploring labour agency in global supply chains, provides an in-depth exploration of the impact large supermarkets have on supply chains, and how workers are fighting their corner for a greater share of the profits.
While the findings offer some hope for labour agency, and the improvements that can be achieved through worker protest, they show that more systemic strategies are required if the underlying commercial imbalance is to be challenged.

This study found that industry strikes did give workers a pay rise, but ongoing tensions in the system between producers and supermarkets remain unresolved. Action by the workers on multiple levels had brought some gains, but it did little to influence the commercial realities driving the conditions for precarious employment, which continue to be a challenge.

Find out more about the Work and Equalities Institute.