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Pay Inequality

February 23, 2009

New EU statistics show that German women earned 23 percent less than men in 2007, making it the country with one of the largest gender wage gaps in Europe.

Woman sitting between two stacks of paper
German men on average get paid 23 percent more per hour than womenImage: picture-alliance / Lehtikuva / Hehkuva

EU Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said on Monday that the 23-percent wage gap between men and women in Germany was significantly above the average 17.4-percent wage inequality in the 27-member bloc.

"That continues to put Germany among countries with the biggest gender wage inequalities," Spidla told newspaper Die Welt.

He added that the latest figures show that the wage gap between men and women in Germany for 2007 had not changed significantly from the previous year.

Only Austria, the Netherlands, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Estonia pay their female employees less, the commissioner said.

Spidla calls for "equal pay for equal work"

Spidla said a major reason for the wage inequality in Germany was the high proportion of women working part time or in low-paying jobs.

Spidla, a former prime minister of the Czech Republic, called on employers to adopt a "equal pay for equal work" policy and urged them to take on qualified women for leadership positions.

It's important for companies to use women's potential particularly in tough economic times, Spidla said, adding that EU statistics showed that, on average, women in the bloc were better educated than men.

Bettina Schleicher, the deputy chairman of the German Women's Council, told the AP news agency that the latest EU figures were bad news for Germany's image as a place to do business.

"You can't advise young women to go abroad if they pursue a career," Schleicher said, adding that gender clichés in Germany -- whereby women were expected to stay at home and take care of the family -- were largely to blame.

Christel Humme, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats' parliamentary group, urged the government to forge "clear and binding legal rules" to tackle wage inequalities.

Author: Sonia Phalnikar

Editor: Kyle James