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Women reading eBook - Inefficiency, errors and absenteeism

Why employee engagement needs your attention

Our latest eBook looks at the state of engagement, and ways to increase it

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How can organisations address the gender absence gap?

7 March 2024 2 min read

Exploring the gender absence gap in the workplace

With International Women’s Day on 8th March, we’ve launched our latest eBook – The Gender Absence Gap: How to Invest in Women in the Workplace, looking at the disparity in sickness absence between men and women.

What is the gender absence gap?

In the UK, women have taken more sickness absence from work every than men since 1995. It’s a similar story in many other western countries, too, where women frequently take more absences, and/or longer absences, than men do.

In fact, absence amongst women is higher than men across every EU member state (except Cyprus), and by a notable degree. In Norway, for example, absence amongst women is 50% higher than it is amongst men.

What causes the gender absence gap?

Despite much research and various studies, there is no one clear, definitive reason as to why women take more sickness absence than men. There are several factors, however, that may contribute to higher absences, ranging from biological differences to the types of work that are more commonly performed.

Contributing factors include:


  • Female health-related issues – such as the menopause, perimenopause and menstrual health
  • Biological differences – it has been shown that there is a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression and musculoskeletal conditions amongst women versus men
  • Caring responsibilities – up to 81% of all caregivers are female
  • The work-family conflict – known as the double-burden hypothesis, which considers the combined stressors of caring, household, and work responsibilities
  • The nature of work – a higher proportion of women have ‘high-strain jobs‘, which may contribute to poorer health in the long-run
  • Differing approaches to recovering from sickness – it has been shown that women can take longer to recover from illness than men, perhaps due to any additional family or home-life commitments they have which may hinder or slow their recovery

Want to learn more?

In our latest eBook, we explore these contributing factors in more detail, citing various studies and their conclusions. We also look at what organisations can do to address the gender absence gap amongst their own workforce, gain better visibility over how absence might be impacting their teams, and the role of HR in helping to better support their people and contribute to making informed business decisions.

The Gender Absence Gap: How to Invest in Women in the Workplace

The Gender Absence Gap: How to Invest in Women in the Workplace

Download eBook

Georgina at edays
March 7, 2024

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.