Moray Council has the largest employment gap between men and women of any Scottish local authority, new figures have shown.
Scottish Government analysis has revealed that the male employment rate in Moray is 80.8% compared with 64.6% for females.
Politicians last night called for action to close the 16.2 percentage point gap, which was identified in a report “Regional Employment Patterns in Scotland”.
In contrast, Highland was the only council where the employment rate for women (82.6%) exceeds that for men (79.8%).
Across Scotland, the gender employment gap, which measures the difference between the employment rates for men and women, has decreased from 10.5 percentage points in 2008 to 7.6 percentage points in 2018.
Sarah Medcraf of Moray Chamber of Commerce said the presence of RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks was likely to have contributed to the gap.
“I think you have to be mindful that there are two military bases here,” she said.
“Families who come to the area will tend to be on detachment and that can make childcare challenging.
“Many of these people will have no family in the area.”
Tory Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “The gender gap is an issue for politicians, policy makers and business people at all levels to consider and hopefully address.
“It is not good to see Moray at the bottom of this table and I hope this is something we can rectify soon.”
Councillor Claire Feaver, a member of the council’s Children’s committee said: “I think it should be looked into, so that women have the chance to work in fulfilling jobs, but I appreciate we are going a long way towards that by offering free nursery places.”
Moray is one of the areas where the Scottish Government is piloting its policy to expand free childcare to 1,140 hours for three and four-year-olds.