Gender pay gap in Europe ‘equal to women working free for two months’

1 Nov 17

The gender pay gap in Europe is the equivalent of women working for free for two months of the year, according to European Commission figures. 

The average hourly pay of women in Europe was 16.3% lower than that of men, which the commission said was “shocking and unacceptable” in the 21st century Europe. 

According to the , released yesterday, this gap is the same as women working unpaid from 3 November to the end of the year. 

Ranking among the fifth worst for gender pay equality, the UK’s gender pay gap increased from 19.7% in 2014 to 20.8% in 2015 – the biggest increase of any of Europe’s main economies.

Germany performed the third worst at 22% in 2015, while the Czech Republic’s gap was about 23% and Estonia’s about 26%.

First vice-president Frans Timmermans, commissioner Marianne Thyssen and commissioner Věra Jourová said: “Gender equality, including equal pay for men and women, is one of the EU’s founding values.

“But it is far from a reality. For the past years, the gender pay gap has basically refused to budge.”

The commission said women performed equally well or better than men in education. In 2016 33% of women in the EU had completed post secondary education, compared to 29% of men. 

But this is not reflected on the labour market where women continue to be under-represented at top-level positions with only one in 14 board chairs and one in 20 CEOs are women.

Timmermans, Thyssen and  Jourová said: “We urgently need to make progress with this stubborn issue, which affects women and our societies on many other points: Women still tend to work in lesser-paid sectors, get fewer promotions and are underrepresented in management positions.”

The OECD also called for advanced economies to do more to close gender gaps, despite increased focus on getting women into public and private sector leadership.

According to an OECD report published earlier in October, female workers earned almost 15% less than her male counterpart.  

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