Mind the gap” –
Quality of work for women and men


The number of women in paid jobs has increased steadily in recent years. In some sectors, women appear to have benefited most from new jobs being created. But while they may have increased their foothold in the employment market, they still generally earn less than men in equivalent jobs and they still tend to climb the career ladder more slowly, if at all.

Despite equal opportunities legislation, the quality of work and the career paths of women are still very different for women and men. Although collective agreements and minimum wage laws are in principle gender neutral, women generally still earn less than men. Part of the reason for this is that women are segregated in some sectors of the economy, taking up lower paid part-time jobs, resulting in far fewer women than men making it to top managerial positions.


The European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) Annual Pay Update provides data on collectively agreed pay across Europe. This includes data on gender pay differentials in the form of the ‘unadjusted gender pay gap’, that is the difference between gross hourly pay of men and women across the whole economy.
The Figure shows, that when looking at the unadjusted figures, quite a wide – although narrowing – hourly pay gap still exists throughout Europe.

Moreover, the figures show that the move towards narrowing wage disparities is progressing only slowly in the EU27 and Norway: it decreased by 1% from 17.2% in 2009 to 16.2% in 2010. In 2011/12 even this trend was broken, with an actual upturn in the hourly pay gap in the EU27 to 16,4%.

                 Mind the pay gap
According to EUROSTAT 2012 the lowest hourly wage pay gap is found in Slovenia (2,5%), while the widest gap is in Estonia (30%) – see the Figure below. This mirrors the situation reported in the 2004 EIRO Pay Developments update.   Other countries consistently reporting relatively narrow gender pay gaps are Malta, Poland, Italy and Luxembourg. Maltese data should however be interpreted with care as the overall participation rate of women in the labour market is very low in that country. Those with comparatively wide gaps include Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slowakia and Hungary.   Hourly wage differentials are accentuated by the unequal distribution of income between women and men in the workforce. Data from the fourth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) show that women tend to be concentrated in the lowest income brackets.

The unadjusted Gender pay gap - 2012


European labour markets are also highly segregated according to the results of the fourth European Working Conditions Survey (see Figure 15).

Immobilien Finanzdienstleistungen
Only 26% of Europeans work in mixed occupations, where the workforce is composed of both sexes in the ratio of at least 40%:60%. Half of all working women work in only two sectors – 34% in education and health and 17% in wholesale and retail trade.
In comparison, half of the jobs occupied by men are spread across three sectors: manufacturing (22%), wholesale and retail (14%) and construction (13%), thus confirming the horizontal segregation existing in the labour market.
Even in the sectors with a large female workforce, women often find themselves in the low paid jobs. Out of those working in the education and health sectors up to 55% of men receive high pay, as compared to only 27% of women.

  This serves to further highlight the issue of vertical segregation in the labour market, or in other words, representation of women in managerial posts.
Nevertheless, over the last 10 years, the EWCS has identified the slow, but steady, increase in the proportion of female bosses in the European Union: from 20% in 1995, to 23% in 2000 to 25% in 2005. However, this rate is still much lower than in the United States, where the equivalent figure is 37%.
There are also substantial differences between the countries when it comes to representation of women in the managerial ranks (see Figure 3). The highest proportion of women in supervisory positions is found in northern and eastern European countries (reaching almost 40% in Finland and Estonia), with the lowest proportion in the southern European and some continental countries (e.g. Germany, Italy and Luxembourg).
Although the increase in the number of women in managerial posts is a positive development, it is not straightforward. Most female bosses have female subordinates.
Whereas less than 10% of men have women as their immediate bosses, around 43% of working women in Europe have female bosses. Women also are more likely to be managers of part-timers – 41% of part-timers have female bosses compared to 21% of full-timers. Both men and women in part-time employment are more likely to be managed by a woman.
Also the proportion of female bosses diminishes in higher management positions (when taking the number of subordinates as an indicator for the level of management responsibility). Female managers are concentrated in sectors and workplaces with a predominantly female/part-time workforce at the lower end of hierarchies.