Women are being segregated into low-paid and low-status work, MSPs have found.
They are subjected to "occupational segregation", clustered in certain jobs such as caring, cleaning and clerical work, according to Holyrood's Equal Opportunities Committee.
A "glass ceiling" still separates women from boardroom jobs, while they also receive unequal pay to men, the committee's inquiry into the unequal participation of women in work found.
They have issued a call for evidence for experts to come forward with ways to address these issues and other problems such as the impact of shift working, increasing competition from men in the part-time jobs market, employers reactions to flexible working requests, jobs cuts and the "double disadvantage" faced by disabled women.
Committee convener Mary Fee said: "The current economic climate has had a negative impact on a number of areas within our society, including rocketing levels of unemployment, particularly affecting women.
"The committee's inquiry has already identified the issues acting as barriers on women's full participation in the workforce. These include everything from the impact of the glass ceiling, to women being segregated in certain types of low-paid, low-status work, to the lack of available childcare.
"We all want equality in the workforce. This committee is looking to identify the steps that are needed to get there."