Women earn in the EU an average of 16.4% less than men, according to the latest figures published by the European Commission.
There has barely been any change in recent years in the gender pay gap – the average difference in gross hourly earnings between women and men across the economy as a whole.
The rate ranges from around 2% in Poland to more than 27% in Estonia.
Member States where the gender pay gap is widening include Bulgaria, France, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.
The number of cases of direct pay discrimination – differences in pay between men and women doing exactly the same job – has fallen, thanks to EU and national legislation on equal pay, but the pay gap goes far beyond this, reflecting ongoing inequality in the overall job market.
Gender Pay Gap in Europe (2009)
The data for 1995-2004 in the European Union (EU) confirm that women’s participation in the labour force, currently reaching 62%, and in paid employment, at 47.1%, has continued to rise significantly. More broadly speaking, this indicates a narrowing of the gender gap in labour force participation for women.
A key measure of women’s improvement in employment is the availability of good-quality jobs for women in legislative, senior official or managerial (LSOM) positions. Higher participation rates for women in LSOM jobs indicate a reduction of discriminatory barriers. Although women still represent a distinct minority in such positions throughout the world, holding only 28% of these senior jobs, there has been considerable progress. In the EU, women have increased their share of high-status positions over the past decade by 3.1% to current level of 30.6%.
Given these advances, however, women in Europe still earn less than men. Throughout the EU, the difference in average gross hourly earnings between women and men has remained high at 15%. According to the European Commission, the difference in earnings levels between men and women results from “non-respect of equal pay legislation and from a num- ber of structural inequalities”.
Gender discrimination is also visible in other aspects of employment. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent report by the Equal Opportunities Commission states that 30,000 women each year lose their jobs because of their pregnancy, and only 3% of those who expe- rience a problem lodge a claim at an employment tribunal.
Best place to be a woman: Iceland
Iceland has the greatest equality between men and women, taking into account politics, education, employment and health indicators.
Best place to be a mother: Norway
Norway is the world’s best place to be a mother, with low risks of maternal mortality – one in 7,600 – and skilled help at nearly all births.
Best place to be a woman in the arts: Sweden
The Swedish Arts Council has launched initiatives to improve gender equality in the arts. The Swedish Film Institute mandates that film grants be distributed evenly between men and women and there are quotas for women in film production.
Best place to give birth: Greece
Greece is the world’s safest place to give birth, with a one in 31,800 risk of dying in childbirth.
Best place for the right to choose: Sweden
Sweden permits women to have abortions without restrictions for the first 18 weeks of pregnancy and there are no mandatory consent requirements.
Best place to earn money: Luxembourg
Luxembourg shares the top spot (with Norway) for estimated earned income. When income is capped at $40,000, women and men are as likely to earn the same amount.
Best place to be a lady of leisure: Denmark
Women in Denmark have more time for leisure, spending only 57 more minutes each day on unpaid work than men, the lowest in the OECD.
See how European countries fare according to the gender gap in education, the economy and political empowerment: 2012 gender inequality index
23% across the Europe (EU)
43 % European parliament
40% Iceland, Norway, Denmark
29% Portugal, Switzerland
22% UK, Czech Republic, Serbia, Italy
19% France, Germany
15% Republic of Ireland
See early research on the impact with this Social Watch report:
See a more recent examination Recession and poverty: Has economic crisis hit women harder? | New Europe (September 2012)
Women in Germany earn significantly less than their male colleagues, a situation that has changed little over the years. The wage discrimination can lead to a “vicious circle of poverty.” German women working in full-time jobs earn roughly 22 percent less than men in comparable positions, according to a recent study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The wage inequality has especially hit women who are single parents working low-wage jobs. Even in these jobs, women earn less than men and – even with a full-time job – they are unable to earn their livelihood. Children, in particular, are hit hard by this inequality. More
Here’s a few figures just published by trade union central Comisiones Obreras that show the huge gender gap that still needs to close
Women at Work
A few facts about women in France today
Source: Front de Gauche