Economic opportunity and participation gender gap in EU member-states

The essence of the main reasons for the gender gap in wages in member countries of the European Union. Characteristics of corporate programs aimed at recruiting talented employees and the elimination of unequal access of women to high-paying positions.

Рубрика Экономика и экономическая теория
Вид статья
Язык английский
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Economic opportunity and participation gender gap in EU member-states

Vinska O.Y.

The authors analyze the main reasons of the gender pay gap in the EU member-states. The article reveals the best corporate programs aimed at retaining female talent and eradicating women's unequal access to high-paying jobs. Using the Global Gender Gap Index data, the authors disclose the major shifts in female economic participation in the EU member-states for the 2006-2015 decade. Utilizing the EU cohesion policy approach to classification of countries, the originators distinguish the less-developed, transition and more developed member-states in terms of economic gender gap. The calculations show that the average EU-28 economic opportunity and participation gender gap score equaled 0,632 points in 2006 and 0,712 points in 2015, resulting in the 0,080-point difference between the initial and final values. Slovakia was the only country facing a slight decline, namely of -0,012 points, during the researched period. Taking into consideration economic opportunities for women, the authors discovered the absence of the less developed EU member-states in 2006-2015. The number of transition countries decreased from seven in 2006 to four in 2015. The roster of the abovementioned member-states includes Austria (2006-2010), Cyprus (2006, 2012), Czech Republic (2011-2015), France (2006), Italy (2006-2015), Luxembourg (2006), Malta (2006-2015), Portugal (2013), Slovakia (2015), and Spain (2006-2009).

Keywords: gender gap, equal pay, economic opportunity, European Union, female empowerment

Авторами проаналізовано головні причини гендерного розриву в оплаті праці в країнах-членах ЄС. У статті висвітлено найкращі корпоративні програми, які спрямовані на залучення талановитих співробітниць та викорінення нерівного доступу жінок до високооплачуваних посад. Використовуючи дані Глобального Індексу Гендерного Розриву, авторами розкрито головні зміни в залученні жінок до економічної діяльності в країнах-членах ЄС в 2006-2015 роках. На основі адаптації підходу політики згуртування ЄС до класифікації країн, за критерієм тендерного розриву в економіці у статті виокремлено найменш розвинені, транзитивні та розвинені країни-члени. На основі розрахунків авторами визначено, що середнє значення показника тендерного розриву в економіці для ЄС-28 становило 0,632 в 2006 та 0,712 в 2015 роках, складаючи різницю в 0,08 балів. Словаччина була єдиною країною з незначним зниженням показника, а саме на -0,012 балів, упродовж досліджуваного періоду. Беручи до уваги рівень економічних можливостей для жінок, авторами виявлена відсутність категорії найменш розвинених країн за цим критерієм в 2006-2015 роках. Кількість транзитивних країн зменшилась з семи в 2006 до чотирьох в 2015 роках. До переліку країн-членів вищезгаданої категорії належать Австрія (2006-2010), Кіпр (2006, 2012), Чехія (2011-2015), Франція (2006), Італія (2006-2015), Люксембург (2006), Мальта (2006-2015), Португалія (2013), Словаччина (2015) та Іспанія (2006-2009).

Ключові слова: тендерний розрив, рівність в оплаті праці, економічні можливості, Європейський Союз, розширення прав і можливостей жінок

Introduction. The global technological and cultural changes challenge the EU sustainable development paradigm based on knowledge economy and human capital. Educated and talented immigrants only partially offset the labor market instability caused by low fertility rates and population ageing; while creative and innovative female citizens face hurdles contributing their potential to the prosperity of nations due to the prejudice and stereotypes. Equal economic opportunities and contribution to GDP for men and women are both human rights and pure economic interests at the same time. Thus, gender gap in creating the economic value inspired a spike in researches generously financed by governments and international organizations fostering the progress in female economic empowerment.

Literature review. There is ample literature about female economic empowerment and gender equality in the workplace. For instance, O. Dashkovska describes the US gender policy regulating employment [3], L. Magdyuk pinpoints gender stereotypes damaging labor market efficiency [5], while N. Lavrinenko and O. Rudik highlight obstacles challenging women in small business [4]. V. Troyan in turn demonstrates the EU gender policy incorporation into educational and scientific agenda [6]. S. Sandberg and N. Scovell observe that low leadership ambitions of women impede their economic participation and career advancement [16]. Disclosing the multinational nature of gender equality and its impact on economic growth A. Mitra, J. T. Bang and A. Biswas show how equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes differ in developed and developing countries [13].

Based on findings from research into mutual influence of economic growth and gender equality N. Kabeer proves that economic growth does not automatically generate the increase in gender equality due to patriarchal constrains [12]. Finally, S. Sandberg, A Huffington and P. Polman assert that promotion of diversity and gender equality taken as personal commitment by top-management of corporations is the key driver for responsible economic growth [18]. Notwithstanding the wide range of publications on female empowerment, the European pace towards closing the gender gap in economic opportunities needs further research.

The aim of this paper is to classify the EU member-states by female economic empowerment considering women's economic participation rates via adapting the EU cohesion policy criteria.

Main findings of the study. The postindustrial development paradigm defines high quality human capital as the key factor for national economic success. No wonder that developing and defending an inclusive society (where each person no matter of gender, race, age, and sexual preference can thrive and contribute to the economic growth) become the important business and policy issue.

So far, the main reasons for the gender pay gap are:

little relevant experience in negotiating salaries, benefits and promotions;

small proportion of women in politics and business top management due to the glass-ceiling, i.e. barriers created by engrained believes and behavioral patterns cultivating female submission;

lack of gender diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries concentrating highly-paid jobs.

Private business tries to be proactive in bridging the gender pay gap simply because it is profitable for shareholders: equality and inclusion stimulate gifted females to generate ideas converted into value added. Besides, such type of corporate social responsibility attracts new clients and retains regular ones. Corporations in traditional and the cutting edge technology industries (e.g., Intel, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Simantec) disclose their gender-based employees' reports to general public and work towards leadership diversity goals - compensating women fairly for their input and bringing more females to boards of directors [10]. The abovementioned entities develop mentorship and sponsorship programs for women aimed at career development and personal growth.

Mercer, the international HR consulting company, has created the global research and solution platform embracing 600 organizations and 3,2 million employees to facilitate business growth via expanding participation of female workforce [19]. Unilever, the leading consumer goods producer, is also deeply engaged in fighting the gender-based prejudice. Its “The Unstereotyped Mindset” research argues that stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias, significantly strengthened and embedded by advertising, hinder the gender pay equity. Addressing these harmful practices Unilever launched “Unstereotype” campaign in 2016 covering marketing tools for more than 400 brands and aiming at reflecting progressive and fair representation of both men and women [17], thus, developing the new institutional framework by means of media commercials.

Moreover, the commitment of business to establishing inclusive job places for female labor force, supporting gender diversity, equal pay and promoting more women on top has become an important part of corporate social responsibility. Complying with the assessment methodology of global business certification standard for gender equality (EDGE - Economic Dividends for Gender Equality, developed by World Economic Forum in 2011) becomes the business imperative and competitive advantage [20].

In turn, national governments develop gender equality initiatives in accordance with comprehensive global agenda stated in the Sustainable developments goals till 2020 by the United Nations. However, prevalent patriarchal values remain the greatest formidable obstacle to female economic empowerment in different countries. Many modern women choose low-paid or part-time jobs because of their profound care-giving responsibilities. Moreover, deep-rooted gender roles stereotypes result in female unpaid housework and/or informal employment. Besides, due to unconscious social bias women working full time are still responsible for cooking, cleaning, looking after children and elderly family members, etc. For instance, women in OECD member-states on average spend twice as much time a day as their male partners on routine housework [9]. This heavy and disproportional burden causes stress and fatigue, which diminish female career aspirations and result in the loss of potential GDP.

In our previous studies, we proved that gender equality has positive influence on GDP growth as well as boosts innovative competitiveness of the EU-28 [1-2]. Continuing our comprehensive research, we would like to assess the main shifts in gender equality in the EU in the dimension of economic opportunities available for European women. Table 1 presents data relating to the changes in integral scoring of EU member-states in the Global Country Score of Economic and Opportunity Gender Gap in 2006-2015. The EU-28 average equaled 0,632 points in 2006 and 0.712 points in 2015, so, the difference between the initial and final values reached 0.080 points. Slovakia was the only country that faced a slight decline of its score by -0,012 in 2006-2015.

By analogy with classification of EU regions by economic development [8], we suggest the following typology assuming that:

* if a EU member-state's integral score of economic gender gap is less than 75 percent of the EU-28 average, then this country belongs to less developed ones;

*transition countries include EU member-states, which have a score of between 75 and 90 percent of the EU-28 average;

*more developed countries embrace EU member-states with a score exceeding 90 percent of the EU-28 average.

gender paying job corporate

Table 1 - Economic Opportunity and Participation Gender Gap in EU Member-States in 2006-2015

Country

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

A

Austria

0,553

0,582

0,587

0,57

0,595

0,624

0,652

0,664

0,67

0,705

0,152

Belgium

0,62

0,668

0,652

0,653

0,71

0,719

0,724

0,737

0,758

0,762

0,142

Bulgaria

0,613

0,699

0,698

0,693

0,684

0,687

0,696

0,707

0,729

0,701

0,088

Croatia

0,651

0,678

0,655

0,646

0,661

0,668

0,669

0,675

0,675

0,664

0,013

Cyprus

0,562

0,602

0,61

0,617

0,63

0,617

0,615

0,635

0,656

0,643

0,081

Czech

Republic

0,627

0,63

0,637

0,644

0,621

0,596

0,603

0,604

0,622

0,636

0,009

Denmark

0,708

0,734

0,712

0,748

0,744

0,767

0,772

0,764

0,805

0,788

0,08

Estonia

0,682

0,694

0,7

0,705

0,719

0,72

0,719

0,723

0,705

0,711

0,029

Finland

0,734

0,723

0,741

0,75

0,757

0,768

0,785

0,773

0,786

0,815

0,081

France

0,525

0,646

0,663

0,659

0,661

0,659

0,669

0,669

0,704

0,699

0,174

Germany

0,669

0,7

0,688

0,696

0,714

0,727

0,74

0,712

0,739

0,737

0,068

Greece

0,585

0,63

0,631

0,607

0,621

0,624

0,633

0,647

0,643

0,644

0,059

Hungary

0,64

0,653

0,669

0,674

0,689

0,654

0,659

0,668

0,668

0,685

0,045

Ireland

0,64

0,667

0,681

0,692

0,741

0,732

0,751

0,745

0,754

0,777

0,137

Italy

0,527

0,543

0,587

0,59

0,589

0,598

0,591

0,597

0,574

0,603

0,076

Latvia

0,705

0,734

0,746

0,754

0,752

0,75

0,762

0,777

0,793

0,784

0,079

Lithuania

0,713

0,761

0,742

0,748

0,756

0,744

0,755

0,769

0,738

0,759

0,046

Luxembourg

0,56

0,606

0,613

0,638

0,751

0,745

0,815

0,816

0,753

0,766

0,206

Malta

0,51

0,549

0,56

0,561

0,543

0,528

0,55

0,565

0,569

0,573

0,063

Netherlands

0,635

0,667

0,667

0,685

0,723

0,743

0,758

0,759

0,711

0,732

0,097

Poland

0,635

0,617

0,624

0,643

0,653

0,653

0,65

0,656

0,681

0,687

0,052

Country

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

A

Portugal

0,669

0,684

0,696

0,681

0,672

0,663

0,679

0,613

0,719

0,712

0,043

Romania

0,673

0,697

0,7

0,712

0,708

0,694

0,681

0,693

0,683

0,708

0,035

Slovakia

0,65

0,667

0,638

0,646

0,638

0,634

0,628

0,635

0,643

0,638

-0,012

Slovenia

0,667

0,705

0,708

0,721

0,723

0,72

0,714

0,719

0,783

0,778

0,111

Spain

0,539

0,589

0,577

0,602

0,624

0,633

0,646

0,652

0,647

0,674

0,135

Sweden

0,731

0,761

0,784

0,785

0,77

0,793

0,796

0,783

0,799

0,836

0,105

United

Kingdom

0,664

0,695

0,692

0,706

0,721

0,722

0,73

0,732

0,714

0,724

0,06

EU-28

Average

0,632

0,664

0,666

0,672

0,685

0,685

0,694

0,696

0,704

0,712

0,080

75% of EU-28 Average

0,474

0,498

0,500

0,504

0,513

0,514

0,521

0,522

0,528

0,534

0,060

90% of EU-28 Average

0,569

0,597

0,600

0,605

0,616

0,617

0,625

0,626

0,634

0,641

0,072

Maximum

0,734

0,761

0,784

0,785

0,770

0,793

0,815

0,816

0,805

0,836

0,102

Minimum

0,510

0,543

0,560

0,561

0,543

0,528

0,550

0,565

0,569

0,573

0,063

Median

0,640

0,668

0,668

0,678

0,699

0,691

0,689

0,700

0,708

0,710

0,070

Ukraine

0,691

0,708

0,714

0,720

0,707

0,704

0,725

0,743

0,748

0,731

0,028

Bearing in mind classification of EU member-states by economic opportunity and participation gender gap, we discovered that there were no less developed countries in the EU in 2006-2015. The number of transition member-states decreased from seven countries in 2006 to four in 2015. The roster of transition member-states includes Austria (2006-2010), Cyprus (2006, 2012), Czech Republic (2011-2015), France (2006), Italy (2006-2015), Luxembourg (2006), Malta (2006-2015), Portugal (2013), Slovakia (2015) and Spain (2006-2009).

Figure 1. Average, Median, Maximum and Minimum Economic Opportunity and Participation Gender Gap Score of EU-28 in 2006-2015 Notes: Own calculations based on [11]

The line graphs of average, median, maximum and minimum economic opportunity and participation gender gap scores of the EU-28 shown in Figure 1 depict the tendencies in 2006-2015. The graphs of all abovementioned statistical indicators steadily grew in 2006-2015. It is worth mentioning, that lines of average and median EU-28 scores are almost identical proving typicality of the average values. The general growth of EU- 28 scoring could be attributed to the political will and purposeful action of the European authorities: educative and training programs; workplace flexibility; affordable childcare; increased maternity leaves; special grants aimed at female business initiatives; mechanisms of gender quotas in politics and top- positions in business.

However, according to the European Parliament if the current progress does not change its pace, it will take around 70 years to close the existing gender pay gap of 16,1%. Even though the female employment rate is historically high and reaches 64%, but it still far below the male rate of 76%. European women occupy part-time jobs four times oftener than men in spite of the fact of being more educated [7]. Such situation is primarily caused by the disproportional engagement of women in public sector where regulations allow maintaining work and life balance, but this sphere faced cutbacks due to austerity policies promoted to stabilize the European finance. Technology also accounts for the gender pay gap: automation displaces jobs mostly occupied by women, whereas management, architecture and engineering, computer science and mathematics having high growth potential face female underrepresentation [15]. Thus, programs aimed at bridging the economic opportunity and participation gender gap need further elaboration.

Conclusion

The EU tries to overcome the slow economic growth by expanding productive labor force aimed at offsetting population ageing and generous safety nets. Very costly adaptation of new-come immigrants and refugees with cultural backgrounds hostile to democratic values actualizes the fact that European educated and creative female labor force is not fully engaged in economic activity. The current EU top priorities include programs and initiatives supporting gender diversity and female economic empowerment. Thriving women, such as innovative entrepreneurs, business and political leaders, become the role model for young female generations and spread the powerful message that gender is no longer the hurdle to fulfilling ideas, unlocking talents and developing skills to seize career opportunities. Corporate business tools eradicating gender bias and retaining female talent to spur the economic growth form the agenda for further studies.

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