In the majority of countries the gender pay gap widens with age. Furthermore contrary to common belief a higher level of education seems to widen the gap. This may be due to workplace discrimination occupational segregation or a higher proportion of women than men being employed in (often lower paid) part-time work or below their education level perhaps because of the need to combine work with care responsibilities. Another explanation is the general widening of the pay distribution at the top end.
Trade union membership is believed to have a positive influence on wage equality. In almost all countries the gap between male and female earnings is smaller for those who are trade union members compared to employees who are not a trade union member.
Although it is too early to assess the impact of the current recession on the gender pay gap there is evidence that economic downturns negatively affect womens position in the labour market especially in less economically developed parts of the world. As well as economic arguments gender-related socio-cultural values have also to be taken into account when trying to explain this trend. A strong focus on the gender implications of economic crises as well as gender mainstreaming in the development of policy initiatives is necessary when attempting to counter the recession. Furthermore an emphasis on collective bargaining and the importance of trade union membership will strengthen women’s position in their job as well as in the wider labour market.
In order to improve international comparisons between male and female pay concepts and methods around labour statistics have to be harmonised. Furthermore the new concept of ‘work statistics as proposed by the UN Review of Labour Statistics will be a useful addition to the current set of employment statistics. These work statistics include unpaid work such as activities in the household and care responsibilities for the family and are therefore particularly useful to assess women’s employment levels and to measure the relationship between female employment and household poverty.
Violence against women (VAW) is a human rights violation which negatively affects a woman’s physical and mental well-being. As a consequence it has a direct and detrimental impact on the victim’s access to paid work. Research into the cost implications of VAW is complicated because there is no international consensus on what constitutes VAW. Cultural and contextual circumstances as well as the methods to define measure and present the results differ from country to country.
The evidence above shows there are many contributing factors to the gender gap spanning across a wide variety of different countries and cultures. Further action needs to be taken if the Eu is to move forward and close the gap between genders in the labour market even further,