Pay Inequality in the EU

Women in the EU earn 15% less than men and progress has been slow in closing gender gaps with
men, according to a European Commission’s report: ‘Report on equality between women and men
2006’. The report found that difficulty in managing a work/life balance means that many women
leave the labour market. Their employment rate, at 55.7%, is 15% lower than men’s. Women who
do work are often confined to a limited number of sectors – more than 40% work in education,
health or public administration, compared to less than 20% of men. Part time work accounts for
over 32% of women’s jobs, but just over 7% for men. Women earn 15% less than men partly
because they are concentrated in lower paid professions. And women still fill relatively few top
posts. On the positive side, the report found more than 75% of new jobs created in the EU in the
last five years have been filled by women.
Work-life balance tensions, combined with stereotypes and gender-biased pay and evaluation
systems continue to hold women back in the job market. Women account for just 32% of managers.
Only 10% of members of the boards and 3% of CEOs of larger EU enterprises are women. The
lack of a good work/life balance has not only adversely affected women’s position in the labour
market, but has contributed to lower fertility rates – which also impacts on the EU’s economy. The
report invites EU Member States to help both men and women to balance work and private life,
such as through more and better childcare, innovative and adaptable working arrangements or better
equality policies. It also urges them to reduce employment and pay differences between men and
women and to make full use of EU Structural Funds in addressing gender issues. Vladimir Spidla,
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, said more needs to be
done to address gender inequality. “It’s not acceptable that half of the EU’s population still gets a
worse deal than the other half. We need commitments at the highest levels to close the gender gap.
This is not just an equality issue, but is fundamental if we are to reach the targets set out in the
Lisbon strategy, which is designed to boost Europe’s economy.”