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Please note that we can reply only to requests in English!

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About gender pay equality

The reduction of the gender pay gap is one of the priority policy areas of the European Commission to promote gender equality in the European Union. Successfully combating gender pay inequalities requires raising the awareness and improving the knowledge of social partners, companies, public authorities and the general public of the size and causes of gender pay gaps as well as of the benefits to society and businesses of eliminating such gaps.

gender equality

© Jeanette Dietl - Fotolia.com

According to the “Report on Equality between men and women 2015” of the European Commission, women’s employment rate reached its all-time high in 2015 but still is well below the employment rate of men by more than ten percentage points. Therefore, increasing labour force participation and especially full-time employment of women still remain a significant goal towards achieving gender equality in the European Union.

The unadjusted (average) gender pay gap is commonly used to describe the extent of differences in pay between men and women across the European Union. According to Eurostat, the gender pay gap “represents the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees”. As Table 1 shows, the gender pay gap declined in the EU-27 between 2008 and 2014 by 1.1 percentage points. However, its extent notably varies across the European countries. This also applies to the selection of the equal pacE countries. While the gender pay gap is only 7.7% in Poland, it reached 18.3% in the UK in 2014; overall, the gender pay gap starts at a low end of 2.9% in Slovenia and reaches 28.3% in Estonia.

Is there a link between the gender pay gap and the employment rate of females? Countries with a lower gender pay gap tend to have lower employment rates of women. The simple comparison of the gender pay gap with the corresponding employment rates can only be serve as a first indication because structural information on drivers of both figures are not taken into account.

Table 1: Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (%) and employment rate of females (%)

Year 2008 2014 2014
Gender pay gap Gender pay gap Employment rate (females)
EU-28 - 16.1 59.5
EU-27 17.3 16.2 59.6
Germany 22.8 21.6 69.5
Belgium 10.2 9.9 57.9
Finland 20.5 18.0 68.0
France 16.9 15.3 60.4
Netherlands 18.9 16.2 68.1
Poland 11.4 7.7 55.2
Portugal 9.2 14.5 59.6
United Kingdom 21.4 18.3 67.1

Data for the gender pay gap in 2014 is partly provisional. Data for the gender pay gap based on the sectors industry, construction and services (except public administration, defense and compulsory social security).

Source: Eurostat database

The question remains as to what are the structural determinants that could explain the size of the gender pay gap. In their study “Magnitude and Impact Factors of the Gender Pay Gap in EU Countries” Boll et al. track about thirty-eight percent of the unadjusted gender wage gap to the role of gender differences in work-related endowments like hours of work, tenure, firm size or industry. The authors use data of 31 countries of the EU-SILC data set for 2013 and highlight country-specific differences concerning the explanatory power of certain determinates for the gender pay gap. Thus, identifying the causes of an existing gender pay gap still remains a major task in order to achieve gender equality. While empirical analyses provide some evidence as to the potential causes at the macroeconomic level, little evidence exists concerning the size of the gender pay gap and its causes at the company level. Therefore, companies in the selected European countries are invited to use the equal pacE web tool to check their pay structures regarding gender pay inequalities and to find out what are the drivers of pay gaps that may exist in their company.

Reasons for using the equal pacE web tool

What is the equal pacE web tool?