The pay gap between men and women persists and is a burning issue almost everywhere in the world. According to an analysis by an international portal, women earn on average 2-11% less than men in the same positions across Europe.
The principle of equal pay for equal work was already enshrined in the Treaty establishing the European Communities in 1957. However, the reality is that, more than half a century on, the gender pay gap still persists. There has been little improvement over the last 10 years.
Is the pay gap noticeable?
The gender pay gap is based on average gross hourly earnings. Factors that affect salary – such as education, hours worked, type of employment, career breaks or part-time work – are not taken into account. But overall, statistics show that women in the EU usually earn less than men.
Shorter working hours concern 7% of employed women, while for men it is more than 3%.
The pay gap is also linked to maternity or parental leave
Pay differentials vary considerably between European countries. They are highest in Estonia (22.7%), Germany (20.9%), the Czech Republic (20.1%), Austria (19.6%) and Slovakia (19.4%). The smallest differences in salaries are found in Romania (3%), Luxembourg (4.6%), Italy (5%), Belgium (6%), Slovenia (8.7%) and Poland (8.8%).
In the EU, the average woman earns 15% less than the average man.
The most common reason for women’s lower pay (around 30% of the total pay gap) is due to working in relatively low-paid sectors (e.g. care, sales or education). On the contrary, there is a very high proportion of men (more than 80%) in better-paid jobs in science, technology or engineering.
Within the same occupational categories, women are valued less, or, when they return from maternity leave, they are downgraded or have to start building their careers all over again.
Fair pay benefits the whole company
The gender pay gap also increases with age. This gap is relatively low when women enter the labour market and widens over the course of their careers with the increasing demands of family life. Women therefore save less, invest less and are more at risk of poverty in old age.
Pay equity is not just a matter of elementary fairness. It would also strengthen the economy because women would have more purchasing power and could invest more. This would also increase tax revenues for states and lighten the burden on social security systems. However, reducing the gender pay gap by 1 percentage point would lead to a 0.1% increase in gross domestic product.
To a large extent, greater assertiveness and awareness of the possibility of salary negotiation (negotiation, the circulation or sale of securities or bills of exchange) by women is also needed in order to reduce the pay gap.