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Mind the Gap

DW staff (cat)August 21, 2008

Women working in Europe have a ways to go to catch up with their male counterparts wage-wise, according to a report released this week.

Exhausted woman in the office
Women in the EU earn on average 84 percent of what their male colleagues earnImage: picture-alliance / Lehtikuva / Hehkuva

On average, women in Europe earn almost 16 percent less than men working similar jobs, according to a new study released by Eurofound's European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) in Dublin.

The gap, which averaged 15.9 percent across all 27 countries in the European Union (EU) in 2007, decreased slightly from the 16.2 percent recorded in 2006.

Though the numbers show a marked improvement since 2001, when a survey of the then-15 EU member states recorded an average of 20.4 percent, comparisons with previous studies are difficult to make thanks to the inclusion of new member states.

Situation worse in new member states

Woman working at laptop
Slovenian women have something to smile about with near equal payImage: picture-alliance/chromorange

In the ten new EU member states, along with Romania and Bulgaria, the wage gap averages about 3.4 percent higher than in the other 15 countries. The worst offender? Slovakia, which shows a difference in earnings of 26.9 percent. Established member Germany, at 22 percent, however, wasn't much better.

And one of the new EU entrants actually has the best record of all 27 nations. In Slovenia, the wage differential is just under seven percent.

Belgium, Greece, Ireland and Italy are also up at the top with a pay disparity of less than 10 percent.