International Women’s Day is here once again and the slogan for 2016 is ‘Pledge for Parity’. Sadly, though, parity is still a long way off.
In 2015, the World Economic Forum estimated that the global gender gap wouldn’t disappear entirely until 2133. So, while we’re all waiting, we’ve decided to investigate whether Europe is moving in the right direction.
Mind the gap
In 2007, Wimbledon became the last of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments to finally cough up equal pay for Men’s and Women’s champions (the US Open hasn’t discriminated since 1973). But, away from the public glare of sport, the gender pay gap still looms large in the EU. So, who are the worst offenders? Well, for a start, nobody’s perfect. The average gender pay gap in the EU states is 16%, according to a recent European Commission study. In simple, money-in-your-pocket terms, that means that for each £1 a man earns, a woman earns just 84p on average. The worst offender is Estonia, with a vast gender pay gap of 28.3%, followed by Austria on 23%. The UK isn’t much better, with a 19.7% gap. It’s not all doom and gloom, though: Slovenia comes top of the class with a tiny 2.9% gap.
Women at the top
Before running off to Slovenia, though, it’s worth working out if you’re after a senior management role and a seat on the board. If you are, you’re best off in France or Latvia. Women make up 32.8% of board members in France and 32.3% in Latvia. Once again, though, poor old Estonia is stuck in the dark ages with just 8% female bums on board seats. Somewhere in the middle sits Britain, which is finally cracking the glass ceiling once and for all. Of the UK’s FTSE 100 company directors, 26% are female (up from just 12.5% in 2011). And the number of all-male boardrooms? A thoroughly refreshing 0% (down from 21% in 2011).
Cracking the code
Plenty of people use ‘unconscious bias’ as a 21st-century business buzz phrase, and gender stereotyping still plays too large a part in career choices. Of course, it depends which career you’re choosing. More than 80% of primary school teachers are female, but head on to a bank trading floor and the picture will be very different.
As for FinTech, Azimo employs 38% female staff, but the UK tech industry as a whole employs just 17%. Azimo is awesome, of course, but in truth this is a pipeline issue. At school, STEM subjects just aren’t being sold to girls as sexy choices. Computing is a classic example of unconscious gender bias: of 5,383 A-Level Computing students in the UK, just 456 were girls – that’s less than one in ten, in case your brother’s never shown know you how to use the calculator on your computer before.
Who does the washing-up?
Beyond the workplace, gender stereotypes are holding firm, with women taking the lion’s share of responsibility for unpaid tasks – such as household work, caring for children or looking after elderly relatives. Working men spend an average of nine hours per week on unpaid tasks and household activities (not including going to the pub or watching the football!), while working women spend 26 hours per week – almost four hours a day. Of course, this has a knock-on effect in the workplace: more than one in three female employees work part-time, compared to one in ten men.
Till death us do part
One area of life where women are in the ascendancy is when it comes to the end. The life expectancy for a woman in the EU is 83.3 years, whereas men meet their maker more than five years earlier, at 77.8 years (probably due to not doing enough household chores). The lowest average is Lithuania (68.5 years for men), whereas the highest is Spain (86.1 years for women). All of which leaves plenty of time to finish off the washing-up.
While there’s still progress to be made, European countries dominate the gender equality leader board, with Norway, Finland and Sweden amongst the top five. So, while both men and women continue to champion for equality from the workplace to the home, we should remind ourselves that the grass isn’t as green in other parts of the world.