EIGE: Horizontal gender segregation undermines quality and working conditions in the ECE


The European Institute for Gender Equality has published a report on the consequences of the unequal division of care responsibility on gender inequalities in the labour market. The new study, on which ETUCE was consulted as an expert in early-childhood education (ECE), shows that unequal distribution of family-care responsibilities between men and women exacerbates gender inequalities in the labour market and that strong gender segregation in education, and particularly in the ECE sector, contributes to gender pay gaps and unfair working conditions in the education sector.

According to the new EIGE study, in Europe, 92% of women provide family-care on a daily basis, against only 68% of men. Furthermore, parenting affects the professional career of 60% of employed women and 17% of them reduce their working hours to take care of their children, compared to only 3% of men. Concerning the education sector, the stereotypes about gender roles and professions have a huge impact on salaries and working condition in the teaching profession, in particular in ECE. Furthermore, the general low attractiveness of the teaching profession acts as a disincentive for male workers to enter into the teaching profession and leads to a shortage of education personnel that, according to the report, causes heavy workload and consequently difficulties in the work-life balance, including leading up to to psychosocial risks for staff, especially in the ECE sector.

Despite the conspicuous presence of the female workforce in education, EIGE points out that “women are underrepresented at management level”. ETUCE underlines that providing attractive pay, fair working conditions and reliable career opportunities in all education sectors is crucial to reduce gender inequality in education and enhance the overall quality of  education systems. Therefore, ETUCE urges the European Commission to stop delaying the Gender Pay Transparency Directive, and to put the proposal forward, as promised in its 2020 work programme. ETUCE also welcomes EIGE’s recommendations that call on governments to improve the quality and working conditions of the ECE sector and to enhance investment in early childhood education.