New IndustriAll analysis of wages in the manufacturing sector has found that women are being paid significantly less than men for jobs requiring similar skills. The starting point of the analysis is the comparison of job requirements in the household appliances and car manufacturing sectors. IndustriAll concludes that both jobs are of equal value as they involve similar skills, responsibilities, physical effort, education, and safety hazards. Yet, looking at wages reveals a 20% pay gap in Germany and a whopping 32% in Romania, in favour of the largely male-dominated car manufacturing industry. The example demonstrates how deep-seated gender bias in the value of jobs continues to be the root cause of low pay for millions of women workers.

These findings add to the wealth of evidence of entrenched gender inequalities in the world of work, and provide a tangible example of how the EU founding principle of equal pay for work of equal value is not held. In addition to working in undervalued occupations and sectors, women typically hold lower-level positions and work fewer hours than men due to unpaid care responsibilities. Overall,  women across the EU earn at least 14.1% less than men per hour.

The gender pay gap has stalled in the EU and majority of the countries lack efficient pay transparency measures. The European Commission was due to publish the highly anticipated Directive on Pay Transparency on November 4th 2020 - the Equal Pay Day, but it is still awaited. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) calls for an immediate move on this issue, and has outlined clear measures that would ensure gender pay gap becoming a thing of the past. The measures would shed light on pay secrecy clauses, make job evaluation criteria explicit, enforce pay audits and equal pay actions, and support trade unions to negotiate to reduce pay gaps.

The gender bias behind low wages for professions dominated by women has also been clear during the Covid-19 crisis. While the work of cleaners, carers, nurses, and cashiers has been essential during the pandemic, these female-majority occupations are among the lowest paid, with underestimated and neglected safety and health risks. Redress is urgently needed, and an important step towards the recognition of the real value of this work would be the EU Pay Transparency Directive.

Photo credits: nito100