The European Union (EU) has made almost no progress in closing the wage gap between women and men in the last decade, according to a recent report by the European Commission. Women in EU member states earn an average of 15 percent less than men, even though more women attend university and perform better in school. The report cites the undervaluation of jobs dominated by women as a major contributor to the widening pay gap. According to the report, “jobs requiring similar qualifications and experience tend to be paid less when they are dominated by women rather than by men.”
Vladmir Spidla, the European commissioner for employment and equal opportunities, called the pay discrepancy “an absurd situation [that] needs to change,” according to the BBC. He blames it on a variety of factors, including the disproportionate amount of time that women spend on unpaid childcare and domestic work, resulting in a higher percentage of professional women working part-time. In the EU, 32.9 percent of women work part time as opposed to only 7.7 percent of men.
In order to eradicate the pay gap, the commission is calling on member states to firmly apply a 1975 law adopted by the European Court of Justice that prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as make equal pay a condition for obtaining public contracts.
Of the EU countries, Germany, Finland, the UK, Slovakia, Estonia and Cyprus have a pay gap above 20 percent. Latvia, Lithuania, France and Hungary show the smallest gaps and have more women in management positions.