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German women take home on average almost a quarter less pay than menImage: Bilderbox

Wage Gap Between the Sexes Widens in Germany

DW staff (dc)
February 25, 2006

Elsewhere in Europe, the gap between salaries earned by men and women for the same work has been narrowing, but the reverse is the case in Germany. Here, men take home on average 23 percent more pay than women.


The 2006 equality report issued by the European Commission on Friday contained sobering statistics for Germany's working women. In 2004, German men earned on average 23 percent more money than women for equal work -- meaning that the pay gap between the sexes is now over three percentage points greater in Germany than in the past.

Statistics from 1999 showed a pay gap of just under 20 percent in Germany. In the same five-year period, the EU average pay gap narrowed by one percentage point, to 15 percent.

The EU Commission said that despite positive trends in women's participation in the workforce, the pay gap showed there was still much work to be done on the gender equality front throughout the bloc.

"Unacceptably high"

The pay gap is lowest in Malta, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece and Poland, and highest in Cyprus, Slovakia, Estonia, the UK, Finland, and Germany.

"The pay gap between women and men remains at unacceptably high levels and shows no significant signs of being closed," the commission said.

Jungunternehmerin mit Kind (Anja)
The EU says it plans to make it easier for women to combine work and family commitmentsImage: Bilderbox

The commission said it plans to adopt a road map with concrete actions member states should consider in order to improve gender equality.

One of the key elements of this road map will be work-life balance measures, which aim to make it easier for men and women to reconcile their personal and professional lives by providing better access to child care, and equal opportunities for both mothers and fathers to take parental leave.

However, the commission's social policy spokeswoman, Katharina von Schnurbein, argued that social policies alone will not be enough, adding that a different mindset unbiased by gender stereotypes would have to become more common before real change could occur.

"Some studies show that while the EU has better social policy than the US, more American women are employed and more of them work in higher positions," Schnurbein said.

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