Little gender equality in Europe’s workforce

For all the myths of equality that Europe tells itself, it is, by and large, a woeful place for workingwomen, says Rana Foroohar of Newsweek.

Europe has consistently been unable to tap the highest potential of its female workers, resulting in a system where most women do some kind of work outside the home, but relatively few enjoy genuine upward mobility, says Foroohar:

  • In the United Kingdom, only 33 per cent of women hold high-level management positions, followed by Sweden – supposedly the very model of global gender equality – with 29 per cent, Germany with 27 per cent and Italy with 18 per cent.

  • Women work in disproportionately large numbers as teachers, nurses or health-care aides, and female part-time workers make 40 per cent less per hour than men.

  • Additionally, the tax structure makes it advantageous for families if the mother doesn't work.
    Moreover, childcare is a big problem, says Foroohar:

  • In Germany, there's an extreme shortage of child care, and much of it is available only for the morning and early afternoon.

  • In the Nordic countries, well-developed state day-care centres offer longer hours, but there's a social pressure on mothers in places like Denmark or Sweden not to use more than six hours of care a day.

  • France counts among the best countries for working mothers because any child over 3 years old is guaranteed state-funded day care; roughly 80 per cent of French women who wish to work can do so, but they still only hold about 30 per cent of managerial positions.

    However, positive signs are emerging; France recently passed a law mandating pay equity and the European Union has set aside funds for the creation of a gender-equality institute whose goal is to create concrete solutions to the gender gap, says Foroohar.

    Source: Rana Foroohar, Forget all the talk of equal opportunity. European women can have a job -- but not a career, Newsweek International, February 27, 2006.

    For text:

    For more on International:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 18 April 2006
  • Help FMF promote the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic freedom become an individual member / donor HERE ... become a corporate member / donor HERE