Challenges for the EU to bridge the gender gap

Working women in the European Union will have to wait decades, if not 100 years, as in Germany, before they can expect to receive the same salary as men. At the same time, this trend of the gender gap – the difference in the average wages of men and women – will continue throughout the Old World even with the current rates of convergence in the amount of salaries and bonuses for working representatives of both sexes.

A study by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the results of which were published by Euronews, suggests that this gender gap will not be bridged in European countries until the beginning of the XXII century, and, for example, in Germany and at all until 2121, in Romania – until 2022, and in Belgium – until 2028. Psychological stereotypes and discrimination against women are the main reasons for this gap, analysts say. According to Esther Lynch, ETUC Deputy Secretary General, employers should first of all introduce transparency regarding wages at a particular enterprise. However, the main problem is that employees still do not have an adequate understanding of the salary scale in the company where they work, and how much the payment for the work is adequate to their labor contribution.

Another problem to be solved in European countries is getting rid of the ingrained gender stereotypes that a woman should be engaged, first of all, with her family and only then with work. Against this background, MEPs have been unable to advance a proposal that is being blocked by EU member states for eight years. The point is that the boards of directors of companies listed on European stock exchanges are at least 40 percent women, so that they are perceived as responsible employees capable of making important decisions. Let us recall that women hold only 33 percent of managerial positions in the structures of the European Union.

Overall, according to the European Parliament, at the beginning of this year, women in the 27 member states of the European Union earned an average of 15 percent less per hour than men. This is despite the fact that in the countries of the community there are more women with higher education than men. This is very noticeable in Romania, where the share of employed women with higher education is 86.4%.

At the same time, there are significant differences in wages for women and men between member countries. The smallest gap of three percent is currently in Romania, while Estonia is the largest at 23 percent. Reducing the gender pay gap does not necessarily imply greater gender equality, experts say, which occurs more often in countries with lower female employment. A wide pay gap may indicate that women are more concentrated in low-paid sectors or that a significant proportion are not fully employed all day. Nearly 30 percent of women in the EU are employed part-time.

According to experts, the gender pay gap also means that women are at a higher risk of receiving lower benefits upon retirement. In 2018, women in the EU over the age of 65 received pensions that were, on average, 30 percent lower than men. The situation between the EU member states is also different – from 43 percent of the gender-based pension gap in Luxembourg to one percent of the difference in the amount of benefits in Estonia.