Gender Experts Still Puzzled by Men's Higher Salaries (1)

Mari-Liis Sepper Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
9/22/2011 11:27 AM
Category: Culture

In 85 percent of cases, the salary divide between men and women lacks a clear explanation, Mari-Liis Sepper, the government's gender equality commissioner, said citing a 2010 study.

In 2007, Estonian men earned 30.9 percent more than women. Those carrying out the 2010 study had hoped that factors such as education and work hours would be able to explain most of this difference, Sepper told ETV.

"The result was very surprising. The fact that men and women do different kinds of jobs and that women have a higher level of education, actually doesn't explain the reason [for the income difference]. 85 percent of the existing gap could not be accounted for," said Sepper.

Instead Sepper pointed to wider social attitudes. History, she said, was to blame for the professions that men and women tend to work in. "That's not a problem in itself, but it is a problem if those jobs are valued differently, and that is unfortunately the case in Estonia," said Sepper.

In the social and education sectors, for example, women are in the majority and pay is very low, she said. However, income is much higher in construction, where 90 percent of the workers are men.

Sepper said gender quotas may be a good idea, but they have been given a bad name. In Norway, for example, the executive boards of publicly traded companies must comprise at least 40 percent of both men and women.


Ott Tammik

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