Gender pay gap: how about gender equality in Europe?
reading time: ca. 6 minutes
- The gender pay gap is the wage difference between women and men. There are two kinds of gender pay gap: adjusted and unadjusted.
- In the European Union (EU), the unadjusted gender pay gap is on average around 13 per cent.
- Equal Pay Day marks the day of the year until which women symbolically work for free.
- The main reasons for the pay gap include that salary structures are often non-transparent, women work in low-paid jobs, and they take career breaks more frequently.
- To reduce the gender pay gap, political measures would be most effective.
Equality between the men and women? This is still a long way off in many countries, but some are getting there. The gender pay gap is one way of showing inequalities between women and men in a measurable way.
Anna and Anton work in a similar position with the same qualifications. Nevertheless, Anton earns more than Anna. Why? The gender pay gap provides a useful tool for answering this question. It is a regular matter of discussion and often used to show social inequalities. The problem: It is often presented without context and uses different figures. For many people, this is confusing and hard to understand. That is why this article explains how the different figures come up.
What the gender pay gap means
The gender pay gap is published every year. Therefore, it is always a topic of discussion in society. But what exactly does it describe and how is it measured?
First of all, it represents the wage difference per hour between women and men. The reasons for this difference are diverse: Women, for example, work more often in low-paid jobs or are less likely to come in leading positions than men. But even if women have a comparable position and the same qualifications as men, the salaries can vary.
There are two kinds of gender pay gap: unadjusted and adjusted. They represent two different methods of calculating the pay gap, with each having a different message.
Both calculations have their right to exist. Most statistics work with the unadjusted gender pay gap – this figure is larger and thus attracts more attention. In Germany, for example, the unadjusted gender pay gap was 18 per cent in 2022, while the adjusted gender pay gap was 7 per cent. It also shows the most important differences: Women usually spend more time on care work, such as raising children or caring for relatives, and work part-time more often.
The Equal Pay Day
Every year, Equal Pay Day takes place as a day of action to symbolically mark the day until which women work for free. It thus draws attention to unequal payment. If the gender pay gap, for example, is 18 per cent, Equal Pay Day takes place on 7th March. Since the pay gap figure changes every year, the day of action takes place on a different day each year.
The day which symbolises "Equal Pay" has its origins in the USA. The women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony led the demand for equal pay in the 1960s. She also played a significant role in the movement around women's suffrage in the USA. After her demands have not been met, the National Committee on Pay Equity introduced Equal Pay Day. Since 2011, the day of action has taken place in over 23 European countries.
If women earn less money in their lifetime, this automatically has an impact on their pension. The gender pay gap results in the gender pension gap. The significantly lower pensions also mean that women suffer more often from old-age poverty. Moreover, the reasons behind gender pay gap show that it is not only a matter of gender, but also a family issue.
How can we create more equality?
The greatest opportunity to achieve equality lies in family-related contexts. Currently, there is a lack of appropriate measures in politics. However, they would represent the most effective weapon against the gender pay gap. Childcare facilities need to be significantly expanded and the full-time working week of 40 hours could be reduced. If, for example, everyone had a 4-day week, care work could be distributed more equally. Furthermore, socially relevant professions in (child) care and education should be rewarded with higher salaries.
Furthermore, it would be helpful to make salaries become transparent. This way, it would be easier for women to not sell themselves short in negotiations. Tijen Onaran, CEO & founder of GDW Global Digital Women GmbH, said: »It helps to talk about our wages, with friends, with colleagues or with our family. Transparency helps everyone for a more fair payment.«In conclusion, the smaller the gender pay gap becomes, the closer we come to equality. It is only fair when neither gender, nor family situations play a role for one's financial security.