World Economy

Germany Fails to Narrow Gender Wage Gap

Germany Fails to Narrow Gender Wage GapGermany Fails to Narrow Gender Wage Gap

Women in Germany still earn far less on average than men, official data have shown. Structural labor market reforms appear to have been too timid to result in a narrower gender pay gap in Europe’s power house.

There was no change in the gender pay gap in Germany last year, the National Statistics Office, Destatis, DW reported.

It said female workers on average received 22% less in gross wages than their male counterparts. For women, Destatis calculated an average hourly gross wage of €15.83 ($16.65), while men’s comparable earnings per hour stood at €20.20.

The stats office noted that the gender difference thus stayed unchanged for the fifth consecutive year.

It pointed out that the pay gap was particularly high in western Germany where women received 23% less than men, while in the new eastern states there was only a 9% difference.

Statisticians said part of the problem was that women pursued more part-time jobs than men which were generally lower-paid and that they did not stay in a job for as many years as men usually did, also because of going on maternity and/or parental leave.

Industries dominated by men saw wages rising at a much faster pace than in sectors such as health and social services that do not pay as well and have a high proportion of female employees.

  A Concrete Reality

A like for like comparison, looking at men and women working in the same industry, at the same level and holding the same qualifications, sees that gap reduced, to stand at 7%.

In comparison with other European countries, Italy has the “best” average private sector gender pay gap: 6.5% whereas women in Estonia have the worst deal, taking home average pay packets which are 28.3% lighter than men’s.

The German Labor Ministry puts the wage gap partly down to “indirect discrimination”, in which women are given fewer chances to climb the career ladder. In 2014, about 29% of women in Germany held management positions—a figure which puts Germany below the EU average of 33%, or every third woman as a leader at work.

The German Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, says it is a relatively stubborn proportion, remaining “virtually unchanged” over the past two years. Latvia tops the ranking with 44% of women as managers, in contrast to trailing Cyprus, where 17% of women hold high level posts.

  Turning the Tide

The reasons behind the pay gap and promotion hurdles are both complicated and manifold, and include the facts that women are more likely to work in lower paid job sectors such as healthcare or retail, work part time—and that there are often fewer promotion opportunities for those not in full time employment.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, research institutes have set out their visions of how to turn the tide on a trend and establish greater workplace gender equality—solutions which often start in the home: The Confederation of German Trade Union’s is calling for men to “reduce their working hours at certain stages of their life,” as well as employers to make it easier for women who work part-time to gradually increase their hours—a call echoed by The Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research which also maintains that high quality childcare at a lower cost should also remain a priority.

Overall the statistics are hardly a cause for jubilation, although there has been an upward trend in Germany: The number of women going out to work is 13% higher than it was a decade ago—however, the fact that they work under worse conditions than their male colleagues means there is still plenty of room for improvement, and pause for thought this International Women’s Day.