According to a disillusioned Commission it will take another 70 years until the same work is rewarded with the same pay, if the current efforts are solely maintained. It takes 40 years until housework is fairly shared, 30, until about three quarters of all women in the EU enter the labour market and 20 more years, until women are on equal terms in the political sphere.


Since as early as 1957, hence decades before the Austrian EU Accession, the principle that women and men have to receive the same pay for the same work, is a core component of EU legislation. Article 23 of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights institutionalises the equality of women and men in all sectors. However, today's women and men in the EU still face different living realities. Gender inequality is a structural problem, which does not have the same effect on everybody or in all sectors. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed a multidimensional index, which interlinks inequalities at different levels. This index examines the equality of women and men in the following six sectors: Work, Money, Knowledge, Time, Power und Health. Points are awarded to the individual sectors – up to 100 points are possible in case equality has been fully achieved. Further, this index also shows trends of increasing or decreasing equality. The following diagram depicts the EU average in the individual sectors and shows how much more needs to be done.


EIGE: Gender Equality Index 2015



The Equal Pay Day takes place at the beginning of March, on the 2.3. according to EU-average (AT: 4.3.). From this day onwards, women and men receive equal wages for their work. The example of the Gender Pay Gap, this is the wage discrimination of women relative to men, explains the complexity of the problem. Currently, women in Austria earn about 22 % less than men; Austria has the fourth highest gap following Estonia, Czechia and Germany – why? The employment rate of women in Austria has risen to over 70 % and thus exceeds the EU average. However, at the same time, almost every second woman is working part-time, which is a result of the insufficient number of childcare and other care facilities. Care work remains to be regarded as female-only responsibility. Occupational biographies, which differ from consistent fulltime employment, however, lead to a remarkably higher risk of poverty amongst elderly women; the EU's Gender Pension Gap equals 38 %. Additionally, women are often working in poorly paid and socially undervalued areas, such as health, nursing and care. The physical work of construction workers is better paid than the heavy lifting and moving of products done by a woman working at a supermarket checkout. This gender stereotyped horizontal labour market segregation is supplemented by a vertical one – women are rarely represented in leading positions.


The pay gap between men and women is not only the result of alleged 'objective’ factors such as the branch-specific salary, education or the length of employment. Hence, income transparency is important to distinguish these factors from others, which are purely of discriminatory nature. The EU is heavily engaged in promoting the transparency of incomes. Since 2014, companies in Austria with at least 150 employees biannually need to present an income report, which lists wages paid due to position and gender. Apart from that, job offers have to include salary details in order to create more transparency for employees.


However, according to AK there is still plenty of room for improvement: even though gender pay gaps can be identified, there is still no obligation for tackling them, such as for example introducing female quota for supervisory boards. Further, the internal confidentiality obligation hinders from communicating the results to employees; externally it prevents representative action. What is more, the reports are insufficiently itemised to allow drawing conclusions regarding pay components. To achieve more transparency at an individual level, it is possible to use the tools provided by AMS, the Ministry for Women or the AK.


The current Gender Pay Day and the upcoming International Women's Day on the 8th of March are used by European Institutions to underline the importance of gender equality for all. However, income needs to be tackled and must no longer be a taboo – more transparency may result in the necessary revaluation of work leaving gender clichés behind. Currently, those who are affected by wage discrimination are the ones who need to get active. Let’s fight the gender pay gap at a corporate level – let’s not wait another 70 years to be fairly paid!



Further information:

EU activities on wage transparency

Project Gender Pay Gap

Tool for SMEs for the wage gap in their own company

AMS salary calculator for occupation-specific income per month, year or life

Salary calculator of the Ministry for Women

AK Pension calculator

AK Wien: Study on the share of women in managerial positions

Study: Wealth differences according to gender