The truth behind Austria's high gender pay gap

Despite social initiatives and political measures, the gender pay gap in Austria has not changed in 20 years. Women still earn considerably less than men. 

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
The truth behind Austria's high gender pay gap - NewsMavens
Purse and money. Burst.

Why this story matters:

With a gender pay gap of over 20 percent, Austria is one of the laggards of the European Union.

Comparing gross hourly wages, women have been consistently earning about 20% less than men for the last 20 years.

"In truth, nothing has changed, despite all the discussions and initiatives," says Roland Verwiebe, professor of sociology at the University of Vienna.

According to Verwiebe, there are some systemic factors that contribute to the issue, like the fact that only 3.7% of Austrian women are in management positions, compared to 8.1% of male nationals. The fact that it is mostly women who need to care for children and sick relatives also impacts their overall earnings.

But Verwiebe points out that, mathematically, these factors only account for about two thirds of the gap between male and female earnings. One third of the gap can only be explained by straightforward discrimination.

Details from the story:

  • The gender pay gap in Austria is all the more surprising since young women are better educated than their male peers. Currently, the proportion of women among university graduates is over 55 percent.
  • That women are still paid less per hour is due to the fact that they are increasingly working part-time -- 80% of part-time jobs are performed by women. On average, these are lower paid than full-time jobs. In addition, many jobs, especially in high-skill sectors, are not available as part-time jobs.
  • Furthermore, women still provide most of the unpaid care and education services, leading them to miss out on promotions to better-paid positions. 
  • Women are underrepresented in applied sciences, like mathematics, computer science and technology, but these are the sectors where graduates have the highest gross salaries.
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