scienceEquality between women and men is one of the European Union’s founding values. In 1957, the principle of equality was enshrined as a key right in Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome, which declared:

Men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

Lovely. So, are men and women equal now? More than fifty years later, have the lofty goals of the Treaty of Rome finally been realised? The statistics seem to suggest not. The average gender pay gap in the EU, defined as the “relative difference in the average gross hourly earnings of women and men within the economy as a whole”, was estimated at 16.4% in 2010, and women are generally still over-represented in lower paid sectors and under-represented in decision-making positions. Moreover, a survey (PDF) on perceptions and experiences of Europeans with regard to gender equality conducted in 2009 showed that 82% of Europeans think this issue should be addressed urgently.

During our EU 2050 event in March, Professor Anne Glover (Chief Scientific Advisor to EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso) spoke about the need to encourage more women to choose scientific careers. Recent efforts in this respect, however, have received a less-than-enthusiastic response. A recent campaign by the European Commission (“Science: It’s a girl thing!“) featured a music video characterised by bloggers as follows:

Serious man sits at microscope. Fashionable, slender girls slink in on ridiculous high heels and vogue to shots of bubbling flasks, splashes of makeup, twirling skirts, and giggling hot chicks.

Ok, music videos featuring Bunsen burners and lipstick might not be the best way to close the gender gap in science and engineering. So what’s the solution? And even if more women did choose careers as scientists, how can we ensure they get paid the same amount as men doing the same job?

What do YOU think? Has gender equality been achieved in your country? Do boys and girls have equal education opportunities and career expectations growing up? What should be done to close the existing gender pay gap? Send us YOUR ideas!


14 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Christos Mouzeviris

    Start treating women the same,but the men equally too with the women… Paternal leave, equal salaries, part time work available for fathers.. Break the taboos, but both ways…

    And the women must change attitude first! I was working as a receptionist in a hotel once, and most of my colleagues were female! When it came to “women’s” jobs like cleaning and tiding up the reception, washing the dishes that we were using I was expected (and I was more than happy to do so) to do them. But when it came for a “man’s” job, like going up to a customer’s room and screwing a tiny screw of the telephone set in the room, I was the only one who always had to go.. As if because I was born a male, I was given an electrician’s certificate together with my birth certificate!

    With those attitudes women are shooting themselves on the foot.. That is simply discrimination, but I was asking them to go and wash the dishes, something that supposedly women do best, there would be an uproar and I would be called a chauvinist pig..!!

    I fully support equal pay, equal opportunities both for men and women, but I also demand equal treatment for men at work, like paternal leave and other little perks that women get. And I would like to see a change in their attitude.. How can you demand equal rights, if you yourself still see “men’s” jobs and “women’s” jobs but you are happy to see men doing women’s jobs, but on the other hand you do not want to move your arse and go and fix a tiny lose screw!!

    Feminism is not about putting an apron to a man and saying “there you go you bastard, see how it feels like now!!” Feminism is proving to the men, yourself and everyone that you can do any job that a man can do as good as.. And that means YOU putting the apron of a carpenter, the gloves of a metal welder, and be proud that you are able to do so…

    I said enough…Again…!! Good luck with your cause though, I fully support it, but we all, men and women have to change attitudes in what is a man’s or a woman’s roles and jobs in our society..

  2. Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto

    Eu apoio a igualdade do homem e da mulher no trabalho igualdade de salários e igualdade de oportunidades Mas as mulheres de hoje também tem que mundar o seu comportamento na sua vida profissional e na sociadade o homem também sabe colocar um avental

  3. Inés Álvarez-Gortari Mínguez

    Simply outrageous. Instead of wasting their money on prolonging sexist gender stereotypes they could come up with actual schemes such as scholarships to encourage women to go into science. Just a thought…

  4. cathereine benning

    How you get rid of a gender gap is to make sure the gender you are trying to push is intellectually equal to their competitors.

    All this absolute insanity talking about no equality is because the majority of people you push on the gender schemes are so out of touch with reality and so full of mental trivia.

    Here is a British example. This women has been placed in our Treasury department as a prospective Minister, and she is just one of many. It is embarrassing to most women to watch this farce and political correctness is the cause. This woman is unfit for purpose.

    http://order-order.com/2012/06/27/video-paxman-mauls-chloe-smith-on-newsnight/

    Anyone who is worth their salt rises up through the ranks naturally, Margaret Thatcher, Christine Legarde, San Suu Kyi. No what you are trying to put on is people who are not equal or even in the same league being offered roles because of their body difference. Are you insane. Is this the thinking of those who run a competent office of legislation. Have you not learned anything over the years you have played this game. Time to take stock and stop this foolishness. Women worth their salt have always risen by their own cleverness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_elected_or_appointed_female_heads_of_state

    Political correctness is an insult to all thse women who stand on their own.

  5. Peter Schellinck

    The gender pay gap remains a very real and at the same time subjective discussion. If all job profiles would be designed with a gender-neutral approach and rewarded accordingly, we would not be facing a pay gap at all.

    Women, unfortunately, continue to experience discrimination in the paid workforce. The level of women’s workforce participation, particularly women with young children, the gender gap in pay, the level of women’s representation in management and leadership positions, complaints of pregnancy discrimination and the prevalence of sexual harassment demonstrate this. Hence, a common European equal opportunity in the workplace act is a must.

    The consequences of pay inequity are more than financial. The fact that women on average earn less than men can limit the choices available to women and men trying to balance their work and family life. Couples make decisions about the division of paid work and unpaid caring work based on whose salary can better provide for the family’s needs. Hence, measures should be put in place to promote greater transparency in relation to pay rates, including in individual contracts.

    What gets measured gets done. Therefore the time has come that we invest sufficient resources and energy into collecting data and measuring our progress towards gender equality. Regular independent monitoring and reporting against an integrated set of national gender equality indicators would provide an evidence-based assessment of progress towards gender equality, benchmarked over time.

    In our current society, one of the most common reasons that women and a growing number of men struggle to stay in paid work is because of their responsibility for the care of children and other loved ones. Workplaces do not adequately support employees who have caring roles. Many workers are not able to obtain the flexible work arrangements they need. When it gets too hard to juggle their various responsibilities, some have no option but to resign. The current generation of middle management is actually the first to refuse a promotion over quality of life!

    International experience shows that the systems and agencies that are most effective in promoting gender equality:
    • are located at a high level within the national decision-making hierarchy to influence government policy
    • have a clear mandate and functional responsibility
    • are linked to civil society groups that support the advancement of women’s rights
    • have adequate human and financial resources
    • are accountable to the public

    We urgently need reforms that will provide greater clarity around roles and responsibilities and to coordinate action towards gender equality enhancing prosperity. As the World Economic Forum has noted, “there is a strong correlation between the gender gap and national competitiveness … a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilises its female talent.”

    Gender equality will not occur simply because we have anti discrimination laws in place. It requires a commitment from all people in Europe – women and men – to counter the attitudes and assumptions that lead to discrimination and unequal outcomes. On top of that, achieving gender equality requires our elected political representatives to drive and champion the policy reforms that are needed to build a stronger, more productive and fairer European Union.

    • catherine benning

      You are not right on the pay gap. If there is a discrepancy it is because women have not done their homework and researched the going rate of pay for the job they are applying for. If they did, they wouldn’t be in this situation would they? Why do you feel they are lesser than men in the negotiating business? Only those who are not equal to other applicants get caught in the ‘not going to pay you as much as another game.’

      To bring in legislation to protect people who are unable to compete is lunacy. Equal is equal. Not equal until we have to help you out because you are not up to it.

      Women who want to be in the job market should accept the rules of that market and not expect some kind of ‘for women only’ package. Or anybody else come to that. This irritates anyone who wants equality to be just that, equality. To think and do otherwise is hypocrisy.

      Women who feel sexually harassed should refuse to work with the offender. But do they do that? Not usually, otherwise this would stop. However, they often encourage it by doing nothing at once. They often enjoy the flattery of how beautiful they are, how wonderful they make the harasser feel, would they like to go for lunch, etc..And when it comes to the pay off, and he/she wants to get raunchy, then they say I didn’t realise. Of course they realise. They are women and women are very aware of what is going on in a sexual predators mind. . And had they nipped it in the bud at the off, it would have ended there.

      I watched this happen in a company I was in, a pretty young woman began in the new receptionist position. I saw one of the directors jump to attention the minute he saw her. He began with the old how attractive she was, what was a nice girl like her doing having to work, and so on. If I was your man you would be a kept woman. Well after about a month I decided to help her out. He being a director and her perhaps feeling she didn’t have a leg to stand on. Oh, naughty me.

      I got chatting to her in a coffee break and said, if this guy was giving her a hard time, all she had to do was A, tell him to stop, and B, complain. Oh, no she said, I like it, it makes me feel special and I look forward to coming to work because of it. I asked her if she was sure, because nothing would happen to her if she didn’t want this, she would not be fired, etc., everyone knew he was a nuisance. She repeated the same line. And this guy was the office creep, in his fifties and not by anyone’s standing an adonis.

      If women don’t want the attention of this type of person, there is plenty of legislation to get away from it, as well as heads of company who would want to be careful of their reputation. .

      Of course, it is sweet of you to believe women need to be cared for, but, where they need to be cared for, is, in not being forced into the work place by holding down salaries so that it now takes two people to earn one living wage. That is the horror so many women have to face today. Being in a ridiculous job they don’t want, because otherwise the family can’t make ends meet and the mortgage doesn’t get paid. They have to abandon their children to a state nursery, who employ questionable people not suited to take care of children, and struggle in a 10 hour a day job for at least five, if not six, days a week. That is the insanity in all this equality nonsense we have now. It has taken away any choice ordinary women had to decide what was good for them and their family.

      So, you are among the elite who simply wants to make excuses for the politically correct, so called feminist, betrayal of all women by making policies forcing them, to leave the home and children they don’t want to give someone else to raise. All on a false promise of a career and this will be good for you mentality. Have you any idea how many women are in utter misery from this objective, or, how many have committed suicide because of feeling they cant’ cope with it?

      Reality, is the name of political websites, not another layer of subterfuge to hide behind. Political correctness is built and sustained by pretending something is other than it is. And this is one of those issues.

    • Peter Schellinck

      If all job profiles would be gender neutrally designed and remuneration accordingly, there would be no pay gap. The fact that it exists is a 2-way default; one on the side of the recruiter and one on the side of the candidate. And where one wants to call the recruiter unfair or the candidate ill prepared, I leave in the middle.

      Equality and equal rights is a basic human right. Because so many inequalities still persist we have the law as a tool to correct the discrepancies.

      As a responsible human being I wish governance, social and environmental, to be taken serious. Hence, as an equality activist I’m calling on the law or politics as a tool to enhance this process that humans fail to do naturally and spontainuosly.

    • Loki

      I have heard exactly what Sunshine said. I have two boys and trniyg one more time for a girl next year. With my second one we did an ovulation test, which my theory is that makes the boy sperm get to the egg faster since they are the faster swimmers. So next time, what I am going to do is three months before I want to start trniyg is go off the pill and use condoms. I want to get ovulation tests and start charting it for three months. So there for when I am ready I can calculate when we should be having sex. I know it sounds all complicated, but I really do want a girl too! So thats my plan at least. Who knows it might not work but at least its a shot!

  6. Dalia Gustaite

    i’m not sure there’s no necessity for that. After all we ARE different. Of course such things as pay shouldn’t be unequal.

  7. Eibe

    I don’t think that we should close the gender pay gap. We should leave that to the market forces which are more rational than political desirability intervention.

    Furthermore, we have to consider that the live expectancy of men is lower, including the obligations of military service. It is not upon the political sphere to socially engineer society and destroy the inherited model of family relations. Otherwise other civilisations would take over.

  8. Luiza Marin

    It takes at least 2.1 children per woman in order to keep a population going. Anything less than this and the population will wither and die out. Europe’s birthrates are from the extreme lows of 1.2-1.8. They are no where close to sustainable. Meanwhile, they are allowing in millions upon millions of immigrants (many of whom are islamic imperialists) to flood every european nation. These people have explosive birthrates from 5.6-8.1. Demographics is destiny my friends.

  9. Luiza Marin

    Political systems and such things can change and can be fixed, but if our people dies it is gone forever. And that would mean that nature’s finest creation would be wiped out, wiped out forever.

  10. Ozcan

    Raising the impression that most women want to liberate themselves from social pressure is a lie that only suits the richness of our economy and hardly ads anything to the wellbeing of individuals or society in general. Women are talked into an idea of freedom that does not exist in reality. Feminism of the 20th century has become a banal industry that has estranged women from their natural habitat and where the man has become the enemy. Feminism is a mistake in essence and thus everything that comes forh out of it must be fault as well. If equality came from humanism instead of feminism than there would be a healthy base to start from, because in the end the family is holy if you ignore this than you do not understand the essence of civilization.

  11. catherine benning

    Do women really feel, when they want to take up positions of equality, as in the military for example, they are going to be treated differently to other soldiers because they are women? If they believe that, then it is not equlity they want. it is special treatment from the male opposite they are looking for.

    What women must learn when they want to be considered equal is, as equals they are simply other men. So, the men of the world treat them as they would any other guy. There is no special treatment in a man to man relationship. They are in contest with each other which leaves no room for specialness.

    Once you decide to compete in a masculine world, you become a man. And you must face the world as equal to a man. There is no half way to equality.

    Now, what is really the idiocy of all this is, women are not men, they have needs that are utterly different to those of fulfilment to a man. So, they are disapointed in the life and rewards a man recieves and enjoys. Becuase the psyche of the female has a different sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.

    Take these female soldiers for a start. They go into the army and expect to be treated as if they are women with special needs to the men they claim they want equality with. And then cry loudly when they don’t get it. Once the male psychea passes his respect for the specilness of womanhood over, she becomes his competitor and rival. He will not make excuses for her when she has told him she wants to kill her own snakes. He will then stand back and let her do just that. Sad but true.

    Human nature is not something politicians can or should toy with. Such interference is destructive to mankind and produces the kind of inhumanity that will take heads off.

    Here, in this video clip, is a woman who is so confused about her role in life as a woman she cannot see the wood for the trees. She wants to be special and equal to the masculine principle as a working soldier. That is not possible and she doesn’t understand why because she has been indoctrinated by political correctness, which is deviant by deceit, telling her she can and will be treated any other way than as a competitor in his aggressive world of killer in war.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDO9a03oZY0

    Women who want to remain in the role of woman should not join a club she doesn’t like the rules to. As a member of this club, she will be treated as an equal. And as an equal she is a man who is his rival in the stakes of life. If she is not up to it, it is not his problem, it is hers.

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