Equal Pay Day draws attention to gender wage gap (1)

The photo is illustrative (Martin Dremljuga/ERR)
4/21/2015 12:18 PM
Category: Society

Various events and meetings across Estonia aim to raise public awareness about the gender wage gap in Estonia today.

Estonia has the highest gender pay gap in Europe. According to the latest figures by Eurostat, the gender pay gap in Estonia was a 29.9 percent. The gender pay gap exists in every country across the European Union – the analysis shows that women earned on average 16,4 percent less than men in 2013. Yet Estonia’s figure is almost double the average, and largest in the EU.

Many other countries, which were formerly on the east side of the Iron Curtain, are doing much better when it comes to gender pay gap. For example, Slovenia has the lowest gender pay gap in Europe (3.2 percent). In Poland (6.4 percent), Croatia (7.4 percent), Romania (9.1 percent) and Lithuania (13.3 percent), the gender pay gap is less than the EU average.

What’s even more worrying, Estonia stands out as one of the countries where the gender pay gap has worsened: between 2008 and 2013, it increased by 2.3 percentage points.

The gender pay gap represents the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees. Differences between females and males in the labor market do not only concern wage discrepancies but also and along with it, the type of occupations held.

The latter fact is usually brought up as a counterargument in Estonia by those who downplay the seriousness of the gender pay gap issue – they argue that men simply work on more demanding jobs, avoiding the low-paid service sector, for instance. This fails to take into account that women in top and managerial positions tend to be paid less as well, despite the fact that they are as highly qualified - statistics shows that Estonian women have on average actually better educational qualifications.

These are the issues and concerns that the Equal Pay Day attempts to draw attention for. Seminars and discussion forums will take place in eight Estonian towns.

S. Tambur

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