Men earn more than women

Five reasons why women earn less than men

Until yesterday, women had to extend the 2020 working year in order to get the same income as men. This point is marked by Equal Pay Day, which, according to calculations by the Business and Professional Women (BPW) network, fell on Sunday, February 21. Accordingly, women earn an average of 14.3 percent less than men. That translates to 52 working days. Compared to the previous year, the Equal Pay Day has moved four days forward. "A small but important step on the way to more income equity," writes the network on its website.

The annual income of all full-time employees in Austria serves as the basis for the comparison. Depending on whether you include part-time income, the industry or maternity leave breaks when calculating the wage gap, it will shrink or grow. The respective method is therefore a political issue.

For example, on its website, the BPW immediately precedes the calculation of this year's Equal Pay Day with the rhetorical question: "Imagine that you do exactly the same job as your male colleague, but get paid less for it?" This suggests that the calculated wage gap of a good 14 percent would draw a swath through one and the same workplace. However, the comparison of full-time incomes does not allow that. After all, many factors play together to create parts of the gender pay gap (see below).

Measure instead of justify

Of course, explaining the wage gap with the help of various statistics does not mean to justify it. The analysis shows that the causes of lower incomes for women almost all converge on the issue of role models in the family. The extent of the working hours or the decision to go to work at all after the birth of a child, the choice of the job for which one is overqualified, but which allows fixed working hours so that one can be at kindergarten on time - all this also applies to the organization of the Everyday with offspring.

How the offer of childcare is reflected in the wage difference, for example, shows the comparison of the federal states paired with the respective opening times of the kindergartens, which the Momentum Institute (a think tank on the left) employed:

Accordingly, Vienna is at the top of the state with a gender pay gap of almost 19 percent - for full and part-time employees - followed by Lower Austria (36). At the bottom of the list are Vorarlberg (48) and Tyrol (42). The gap in the wage gap largely follows the proportion of kindergartens that are open for more than seven or ten hours.

This fits in with the findings of a study by economist Josef Zweim├╝ller from the University of Zurich, according to which the decades-long expansion of kindergartens in Austria has changed almost nothing in terms of women's income. The crux of the matter is that the number of children in full-time care did not essentially increase.

On the occasion of the Equal Pay Day, calls for more wage transparency are being raised. As experience from Iceland and Scandinavia show, this is an effective means of combating direct discrimination. If you look at the data, the wage gap cannot be closed without a better balance between work and family.

Five reasons for the pay gap

1. More women in the world of work

The increasing role of women in working life is a positive development in terms of gender equality. But the employment rate of women is still below that of men. What is meant is the proportion of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 who is active in the labor market. For women it was 69 percent in 2019, for men 78 percent. Two decades before that, the gap was almost three times as large.

From a statistical point of view, this historical development has a downside: the more women work, the clearer it becomes that they earn less than men. Nowadays, when a young mother returns to work with part-time parental leave, her salary goes down. If she had given up her job entirely to look after the children, the complete loss of wages would not be included in the income comparisons and the gender pay gap would even decrease.

2. Part-time remains a woman's business

The extent of employment has the greatest influence on the gender pay gap: If one considers all employed persons instead of just full-time employees, the gender pay gap in Austria is over 36 percent. Overall, half of women between the ages of 25 and 49 worked part-time in 2019, compared with just eight percent of men.

This dampens the income of those affected in several ways: Those who are not fully available to their employer certainly do not work lucrative overtime. In addition, those who can fully kneel in the job are more likely to climb the career ladder. It's not just about career opportunities within the company, but also about the type of job. Better paid occupational fields require more work. Anyone who knows that care duties do not fit into the job scheme is going into a sector that allows for plannable times, even if the pay is poor.

3. Bigger gap among high earners

The wage gap also depends on the career choice. There are minor differences, for example, in public administration or in health and social services, as the BPW calculates. On the other hand, men earn over 25 percent more than women in finance, freelance work or in industry. These industries generally pay better, which increases the overall gender pay gap.

On average, math and IT skills are better rewarded in professional life than social or word processing skills. The professional landscape is characterized by the fact that there is a surplus of men among the graduates of the MINT subjects (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology). In addition, women work more often in jobs for which they are overqualified, as Agenda Austria states. Men also more often have jobs with flexible working hours - think fitter instead of saleswoman - that are related to surcharges.

4. Time with the children

Having children costs money. When it comes to earned income, this statement is only true for women. As a study by the University of Zurich found for Austria two years ago, the income of women even ten years after the birth of their first child is 51 percent below the value one year before the birth. In fact, fatherhood is not reflected in men. Of course, the waiting period immediately depresses earnings.

For biological reasons, women stay at home immediately before and after giving birth. But even after this time it is mostly mothers who take parental leave. Less than a fifth of fathers take parental leave for more than two months - precise data on this are not recorded in Austria, as a study by the liberal think tank Agenda Austria criticizes. On the other hand, it can be seen that men on leave are on average older and earn better than women. Men suffer a similarly strong loss of income due to parental leave, albeit at a higher level. As childcare consolidates, it also shows that only 30 percent of older teenage mothers work full-time.

5. Persistent Discrimination

Researchers, politicians and activists argue about the so-called unexplained remainder of the gender pay gap. This means what remains of the wage gap between men and women when factors from working hours to career choice are factored out. The information found in the course of the research ranged from under six percent to around 13 percent.

It is clear that there is direct discrimination in which women earn less than their male colleagues for the same job. Opinions differ ideologically as to whether this is due to the prejudices of employers against women and clusters, or whether men heave themselves over their female colleagues thanks to more intensive wage negotiations. Either way, the effects of direct discrimination do not immediately disappear from wage statistics, even if there has been a change in the mind. Because even those who were wrongly promoted years ago are now sitting higher up the career ladder. (Leopold. Stefan, February 22nd, 2021)