Inequality between women and men is present in many areas around the world. One of the fields where this is most debated is earnings. Currently, the EU average pay gap between men and women sits at 13% and, according to the EU, that is estimated to be the equivalent of roughly two months of salary.
Romania had one of the lowest unadjusted gender pay gaps in the European Union in 2020, namely 2.4%, according to a report published by Eurostat. This means that women employed in Romania made on average EUR 97.6 for each EUR 100 male employees earned in 2020.
In the EU, the average pay gap was over five times higher, at 13%. The highest gender pay gaps were in Latvia, 22.3%, followed by Estonia, 21.1%, Austria and Germany, both close to 19%.
An overview of the EU gender pay gap
Even though women are on average better educated than men in the EU, they earn 13.0% less. The unadjusted gender pay gap varied among the EU Member States, with the highest differences observed in Latvia, Estonia, Austria, and Germany. On the other end of the scale, the differences were smallest in Luxembourg (0.7%), Romania (2.4%), Slovenia (3.1%), and Italy (4.2%).
As we can see from the data, there is a significant difference between member states showing that wage equality is not that dependent on a country’s wealth.
Why gender pay gap persists in the EU
Between 2012 and 2020, the EU gender pay gap it shrank only marginally from 16.4% to 13.0%. In the space of eight years, this gap was reduced by just only 3.4%. At this pace, it would take more than 30 years for the gender pay gap to disappear.
According to Eurostat, one of the main reasons why the pay gap still persists in EU state members is that women are still the primary caregivers when it comes to children. By skipping time (months or even years) of their careers, most women in the EU suffer from a cumulative effect on their overall wages.
Even after they came back to work, they often end up in part-time jobs or doing low-skilled labor.
The Romania Secret
Romanian women are leaders in the EU in terms of their involvement in professions that are traditionally male-dominated, such as exact sciences, math, and computer science.
This is mainly due to the fact that in Romania the former communist regime promoted an official policy of gender equality for more than 40 years, providing equal access to education and employment, and restricting pay. Romanian women are more likely to graduate with degrees in engineering, tech, and manufacturing, compared to women in other EU countries.
Also, the Romanian Constitution, the Labour Code, and the law that establishes the salary for employees and public servants working for public institutions and authorities, all recognize the right to pay equity as a fundamental principle.
Romania is also an important IT hub and has a significant number of IT&C female graduates. According to data from the Politehnica University in Bucharest, women’s percentage has been constantly increasing in the past years. They are interested in Automatic Control and Computer Science and Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology faculties.
Progress in gender equality in Romania since 2010
In 2019, on average, women achieved higher monthly net earnings than men in approximately seven economic activities in Romania. For example, female employees had higher monthly net earnings by almost 20 percent in administrative and support service activities, compared to men.
But things are not all rosy when it comes to gender equality in Romania. The gender gap in employment is still wide for some groups. The gender gap in full-time jobs is highest between women and men who are single and women and men in couples with children.
Equal pay still has a long road ahead
Two-thirds of the increase in employment in the EU over the past two decades was due to women joining the workforce. However, the rise in women’s employment was much higher in part-time jobs or low-wage jobs. This means that at the moment, women in the EU are over-represented in minimum wage jobs.
Despite numerous improvements to social and professional life, the wage gap seems to be significant and with deep cultural roots. But equal pay is not just a matter of justice, it’s a matter of boosting the economy and expanding the workforce in all the sectors and industries. Women would get more to spend and this would also increase the tax base.