Unequal Pay Day: what factors are holding women back?


Considering that in Europe, women earn on average 16% less than their male colleagues, today, 31st October 2018, marks the day from which women effectively work for free until the end of the year.

There are several contributing factors to this persistent gender pay gap. The 2018 ETUC Gender Equality Survey confirmed that women are more likely to be hired on precarious contracts than men. In addition, women are  more inclined to take up part-time work as a result of caring responsibilities which has a negative impact on career progression and salary advancement.

The European Commission has addressed this issue and adopted a 2017-2019 Action Plan on the Gender Pay Gap last year. Likewise, ETUC launched its Pay Rise Campaign last year, using #HerPayRise to shine a special light on the unequal pay between men and women. The objective of this campaign is to review the grading of jobs performed by women employed in predominately female sectors and to increase their salaries accordingly.

The research findings of the current ETUCE project on Social dialogue and gender equality reveal that, across all education levels, female teachers earned 3% less in 2014 compared to male teachers amounting to an €860 difference. Moreover, women tend to be over-represented in the early childhood education sector, that is often associated with care-giving and paid less than other education sectors, whereas men are mainly employed in better-paid, higher-status positions that hold greater influence on decision-making and policy development.

On the European Unequal Pay Day, European Director Susan Flocken  states: “Principles of equal pay and gender equality are enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights.  It is crucial that the teaching profession be more respected and valued by governments and in society. We need better work-life balance regulations to ensure that women in all education sectors have adequate working conditions and genuine access to career opportunities and professional development”.