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A long waiting time for gender parity

Waiting for the gender parity – 131 years!

Women in the European Union still earn less than men for equal jobs. The average gender pay gap in the EU is 13%. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that it will take 131 years to globally reach full gender parity if improvements continue at the present modest speed. It took 12 years, but the European Parliament has finally approved the EU’s new directive on pay transparency.  

 “While the global parity score has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the overall rate of change has slowed down significantly. Even reverting back to the time horizon of 100 years to parity projected in the 2020 edition would require a significant acceleration of progress”, the WEF says  

The European pay transparency directive gives workers the right to information on pay in their category of work and companies must act if their gender pay gap is over 5%. 

The EU gender pay gap has only been reduced with 2.8 percentage points over 10 years, according to EU statistics.

Under the new rules, pay structures to compare pay levels will have to be based on gender-neutral criteria and include gender-neutral job evaluation and classification systems. Vacancy notices and job titles will have to be gender neutral and recruitment processes led in a non-discriminatory manner. 

The new rules were approved by the parliament’s plenary by 427 votes. But 79 MEPs voted against!

The gender report from WEF notes that women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce.. Women make up almost half (49.3%) of total employment across non-STEM occupations, but just 29.2% of all STEM workers. 

Read Also:  Gender parity will take another 131 years

The general global gender gap is 68.4%, an improvement of 0.3% from last year’s 68.1%. The index measures gender parity across four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment in 145 countries. 

The modest improvement since 2006, when the index was introduced, is 4.1 percentage points based on numbers from the 102 countries that have been included since the first report.

 According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index, no country has yet achieved full gender parity, although the top nine countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia and Lithuania) have closed at least 80% of their gap. 

For the 14th year running, Iceland (91.2%) takes the top position. It also continues to be the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap.

Women’s representation drops to 25% in C-Suite positions on average, which is just more than half of the representation in entry-level positions, at 46%. 

Read Also:  Transparency, regulation and policy to fight gender pay gap

For the past eight years, the proportion of women hired into leadership positions has been steadily increasing by about 1% per year globally. However, this trend shows a clear reversal starting in 2022, which brings the 2023 rate back to 2021 levels.

These statistics are kind of explained by researchers writing in Harvard Business Review saying that “no age is the right age to be a woman leader”. 

With an increasingly diverse and multigenerational workforce, age bias now occurs across the career life cycle — especially for women, a research report shows.  

“There was always an age-based excuse to not take women seriously, to discount their opinions, or to not hire or promote them. Each individual woman may believe she’s just at the wrong age, but the data make the larger pattern clear. Any age can be stigmatized by supervisors and colleagues to claim that the woman is not valued or is not a fit for a leadership role, the researchers write.

“The research is clear: Any age can be viewed as “the wrong age” for a woman, allowing her capacity to be questioned and her fitness for leadership challenged. But we can stop stigmatizing women’s age — benefitting not just women, but the whole organization.”

To fight gender ageism the researchers propose:

  • Recognize age bias.
  •  Address “lookism”
  •  Focus on skills, no matter who has them
  • Cultivate creative collaborations

The gender pay gap is also a gender pension gap, statistics from EU’s Eurostat shows. 

EU women older than 65 get a pension on average 29% lower than that of men. The good news is that the gap has been decreasing and is almost 5 percentage points lower compared with 2010 (34%). 

Read Also:  Platform work economy offers flexibility but reinforces gender inequality

Eurostat says that although women received lower pensions in all EU Member States, the extent of the gap varies widely. The largest difference was in Luxembourg, where women aged over 65 received 44% less pension than men. Luxembourg was closely followed by Malta and the Netherlands (both 40%), Cyprus (39%), Austria (37%) and Germany (36%).

“On the other hand, the smallest difference in pension income between women and men was recorded in Estonia (2%), followed by Denmark (7%), Hungary (10%), Slovakia (11%) and Czech Republic (13%).”

In 2019 (latest data available),, the proportion of pensioners aged over 65 at risk of poverty in the EU was 15.1%, slightly above the figure of 14.5% in 2018 as well as above the risk of poverty of the working age population (16 to 64 years) at 14.2%. 

“Unlike the gender pension gap, at-risk-of-poverty rate for pensioners has been rising gradually since 2014, when it stood at 12.3%”, Eurostat says..

Across the EU as a whole between 2010 and 2019, the proportion of female pensioners aged over 65 who were at risk of poverty was around 3 to 4 percentage points higher than the rate for male pensioners.

The European Institute for Gender Equality says that the platform work economy comes with great strengths. The ability to work where you want and how you want is a significant motivator for people who have grown tired of the 9-5 rigidity and seek more diversity in their career path. 

But recurring inequalities and stereotypes are reinforced in platform work, The Institute says.

“EU’s member states should create corresponding social protection in which platform workers can be included and benefit from, the Institute says in a report on platform work.

“Platform work together with other new forms of employment are gaining ground in the European labour market. Although the share of women platform workers has been rising in recent years, they remain under-represented in platform work. Generally, platform workers tend to be young and highly educated.”

Read Also:  Tech and innovation critical for gender equality


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