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Gender inequality at work persists across Europe, finds Glassdoor

Despite progress that has been made with more women entering the workplace, a gender gap in employment still persists across Europe, according to a new report from Glassdoor Economic Research.

In a ranking of 18 countries using OECD and Eurostat data, Sweden and Norway are found to have the best overall balance between men and women in work; Greece and Italy the worst.

Italy and Greece have the largest differences in the number of employed men and women at 18 percentage points (pp) and 17pp respectively. Finland, Sweden and Norway have significantly more balanced employment markets, with only 2 to 4pp difference, between employed men and women, the report found.

Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of Glassdoor, Inc., commented, “Sweden, Norway and Finland illustrate that it is possible to achieve near gender parity in the workplace.

"This balance in the labour market can be a lesson for other countries. However, even in Norway the 'cost of motherhood' in terms of lower wages for women with children is one of the highest in Europe, illustrating that no country in the world is perfect.”

The new Glassdoor Economic Research report, conducted in cooperation with Llewellyn Consulting), titled “Which Countries in Europe Have the Best Gender Equality in the Workplace?”1, aims to identify where gender inequality is highest, in what types of jobs women are under-represented and the impact on the gender pay gap when women in the workplace start a family. The study, spanning 18 countries, presents an analysis of 12 key indicators, including: the female-to-male ratio in labour force participation, the proportion of managers who are women, the gender gap in employment rates by educational attainment, and the gender pay gap by the presence of children.

Looking at full-time equivalent employment (taking into account the number of hours worked) the gender gap widens and is generally two to three times higher than for overall employment, according to the report. This highlights the differences in the hours worked by men and women, with women less likely to be employed full-time. The gender gap for those who have gone through tertiary education (university) is around half of what it is for those with less than upper secondary education. Further education thus significantly increases a woman’s probability of being employed.

In Sweden, Norway, the UK and Portugal, more than 35% of managers are women. In Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Denmark, however, the proportion drops to below 30%. Female managers are most under-represented in the Netherlands, at only 26%.

At board level, women are under-represented too: fewer than 40% of board members of listed companies are women. Norway, at 36%, has the highest proportion of women, due partly to a legislation-based quota system introduced in 2006. In France, Finland, and Sweden, around 30% of board members are women. In Denmark, the UK, Italy, and Germany, it is around 25%. In Ireland, Portugal and Greece, the proportion is between 13% and 10%; while in Estonia, the proportion is a lowly 8%.

The gender pay gap increases with the presence of children in a family, which means that women who work and have children are worse off than those who do not have children. The pay difference (with respect to men) between women with at least one child and those with no children is highest by far in Ireland (31pp). The cost of motherhood is also comparatively high in Germany (23pp), but lowest in Italy, Spain and Belgium (3pp or less). As a benchmark, in the U.S. the pay difference between women with at least one child and those with no children is 16pp, which is greater than most European countries in this study.

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