Mixed reasons given for Estonia’s huge gender pay gap Mixed reasons given for Estonia’s huge gender pay gap

Mixed reasons given for Estonia’s huge gender pay gap
11 Jun 2018

Swedbank chief economist Liis Elmik has suggested that Estonia's gender pay gap, which is the largest in Europe, is caused by its long parental leave. 

Statistics Estonia reported that in October 2017, the average gross hourly earnings of female employees in the country were 20.9% lower than those of male employees and that, after three years of decline, the gender pay gap was no longer falling.

"By age group, the pay gap is largest between the ages of 35 and 44, when women are returning to the labour market after maternal leave - 64% of children in Estonia are born to women between the ages of 25 and 34," Elmik told ERR.

But women are more frequently inactive employment-wise than men and more likely to work part-time - and it is the latter in particular that “may hinder movement on the career ladder and therefore foster a pay gap", she added.

On average, Estonian women undertake 18% less paid work and 60% more domestic labour per day than men. But another reason behind the pay gap is that men are more likely to work in technology-based positions, where the average salary is higher, Elmik said.

Minister of health and labour Riina Sikkut attested that most of the reasons behind the pay gap remained unexplained though.

"Neither the differences in sectors where men and women are to be found, nor their respective educational level or other objectively measurable skills can explain the lag," she said.

She added that transparency between pay scales within companies was likely to lead to a more friendly, equitable and comprehensible culture.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Swedbank chief economist Liis Elmik has suggested that Estonia's gender pay gap, which is the largest in Europe, is caused by its long parental leave. 

Statistics Estonia reported that in October 2017, the average gross hourly earnings of female employees in the country were 20.9% lower than those of male employees and that, after three years of decline, the gender pay gap was no longer falling.

"By age group, the pay gap is largest between the ages of 35 and 44, when women are returning to the labour market after maternal leave - 64% of children in Estonia are born to women between the ages of 25 and 34," Elmik told ERR.

But women are more frequently inactive employment-wise than men and more likely to work part-time - and it is the latter in particular that “may hinder movement on the career ladder and therefore foster a pay gap", she added.

On average, Estonian women undertake 18% less paid work and 60% more domestic labour per day than men. But another reason behind the pay gap is that men are more likely to work in technology-based positions, where the average salary is higher, Elmik said.

Minister of health and labour Riina Sikkut attested that most of the reasons behind the pay gap remained unexplained though.

"Neither the differences in sectors where men and women are to be found, nor their respective educational level or other objectively measurable skills can explain the lag," she said.

She added that transparency between pay scales within companies was likely to lead to a more friendly, equitable and comprehensible culture.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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