Germany lags Europe on gender pay gap

Mon Mar 5, 2012 12:38pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The wage gap between men and women is wider in Germany than in any other European country and women occupy just four percent of top corporate jobs, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Monday.

Germany may be run by a woman but it is still lagging on gender issues, despite promises to change its ways.

Full-time employed women earn 21.6 percent less on average than their male counterparts in Germany, a pay gap that is well above the OECD average of 16 percent. In Norway and Belgium, women receive 8.4 and 8.9 percent less.

"In no other European country is the wage gap between men and women so strong as in Germany," the OECD wrote. "And with regards to the number of women in leading positions too, Germany is lagging by international comparison."

Women occupy just four percent of top corporate jobs in Germany, versus an OECD average of 10 percent, according to the latest data from 2009.

In Sweden, France, Slovak Republic and Finland the proportion of women on boards is between 15 and 20 percent, while in Norway, it is close to 40 percent as a result of a mandatory quota introduced in 2006.

Germany's 30 top companies set voluntary targets last October to raise the number of women in leadership positions, in the hope of averting legally imposed quotas as a campaign to smash the glass ceiling gains momentum.

But they may be too late. The European Commission moved one step closer on Monday to forcing companies to increase the number of women on their boards with a consultation on imposed quotas.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has kickstarted a three-month debate that could result in legislative action, a year after she called on companies to take voluntary steps to increase the number of women on boards to 30 percent by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020.   Continued...