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pay gap

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Even in 2010, women tend to earn less than men - pay gap
Even in 2010, women tend to earn less than men
Almost any time you compare salaries, women lose out against men. All across Europe, they are earning less than their male counterparts – on average, 18 percent less.

How did this disparity come about and why do men earn more? Here we address some of these questions.

Where is the pay gap the greatest?
How much less women earn depends on where within Europe they live. While it is around 23 percent in Germany, the discrepancy in France is below the EU average at 17 percent. In countries like Italy, where women work less, the discrepancy is lower: In Italy it is 4.9 percent, in Slovenia 8.5 percent.

Large differences in salary disparity do not only exist between countries, but also between business sectors. In the banking sector in London, for instance, women take home 40 percent less salary than their male colleagues.

What is the pay gap situation in the UK? 

Out of the 27 EU countries, the UK has one of the largest pay gap amounting to 22 percent: For every pound a man earns, a woman gets 82.8p, the equivalent to woriking in November and December of very year for free! Within one year, 44,013 equal pay claimes were brought forward.

Has the pay gap diminished over time?
No, on the contrary. In some countries, the situation has actually gotten worse. In Germany, for instance, the discrepancy was 22.7 percent in 2006.  

Why do women earn less than men?

A large part of the pay disparity can be explained by the fact that women often work part-time and that the proportion of women working in the social sector – jobs that tend to not be as well paid – is larger. In the UK, 50 percent of women work in low-paid part-time jobs beneath their potential, e.g. not using their vocational skills.

In well paid sectors such as the chemical industry or engineering, men make up the majority of the workforce. In addition, women tend not to advance into leading positions in spite of good education and training (the so-called "glass ceiling").

Is there a pay gap for equal work?
When comparing remuneration, though, it’s also true that women receive unequal pay for equal work. The fact that women and men with the same qualifications and responsibilities working in the same organization aren't paid the same is often not known – even by the employees themselves. There is a great deal of speculation about the reason why companies pay women less. The lower pay is probably viewed as compensation for potential periods of maternity leave or time taken off to care for children.

What effects does the pay gap have?
For women, earning less also means that they will subsequently get a lower pension than men. This is exacerbated by the deduction of the periods during which the women put their career on hold to care for their children.  Among women over 65, 22 percent are likely to suffer poverty, while only 16 percent of men are.

Is unequal pay actually legal?

Pay disparity between women and men who perform exactly the same work is considered direct discrimination, which is forbidden by both EU and national legal regulations. In individual cases, however, unequal pay is often difficult to prove. Contracts also often contain clauses that prohibit disclosure of salary details.



Women in Focus Editor
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