Labour market

Gender gap narrows but widens among younger workers

Women's average salary would have to rise 26% to achieve equality

2 min
The UGT is committed to collective bargaining to combat the wage gap and eliminate gender discrimination

BarcelonaThe gender gap has narrowed by about two points compared to 2018, to 22.64% in 2019, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) interpreted by union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO). But as the study made by the union points out, the differences between young people have widened even more: female workers under 18 have gone from being paid 19.4% less than male workers in 2010 to 34.8% less in 2020, and those between 18 and 25, from 11.5% to 13.6% in the same period, according to data from the State Agency of Tax Administration.

While women already enter and take their first steps in the labor market with a clear disadvantage, the situation thereafter does not improve either. "The role of women, linked to care, is decisive," remarked CCOO's head of Studies, Culture and Memory, Dolors Llobet. The differences grow especially for the age groups at which many women become mothers. "They ask for reductions in working hours, leaves of absence, etc. And this ends up affecting their professional career, also because they lose many opportunities, and this has repercussions on pensions," adds Llobet.

Beyond the fact that many more women take on care responsibilities, many other factors also play a role, such as the fact that many precarious sectors such as cleaning are almost exclusively occupied by female workers or that, in general, women also have more temporary jobs than men. This situation also makes them more vulnerable to crises, such as the one at the beginning of covid.

In this sense, according to the report funded by CCOO, despite the fact that the gender gap is accentuated in the worse-off in Catalan society, it is also the group where it has been reduced the most thanks to the increase in minimum wage in 2019, which went from €10,302 per annum to €12,600. Thus, during 2018 and 2019, the gender gap has gone from 29.92% to 25.7%. Although this improvement is positive, the union warns that the data also show that there is a growing proportion of women earning less than minimum wage, which had stagnated since 2008 and has been aggravated during the pandemic. Thus, if this percentage in 2018 stood at 25.7%, in 2019 it increased to 36.87% and in 2020 to 42.32%.

The sector with the smallest gender wage gap is agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing. Although average salaries in this sector are very low (around €12,000 per annum), the gap is only 2.6%. On the other hand, in the financial sector, where more men than women work (especially in jobs of responsibility), the difference is as high as 27.35%.

To achieve wage equality, the study prepared by CCOO Catalunya in conjunction with the Centre d'Estudis i Recerca Sindicals (CERES) calculates that the average salary of women would have to increase by 26%. "Until now we had calculated the percentage difference between women's salaries and men's salaries, but now we are also doing the reverse [...]. We don't want the salaries of working men to go down, but for women's salaries to go up. This has to be the objective," explained Irene Galí, sociologist at CERES.

75% of part-time workers are women

Another study presented in Madrid by the same union determines that the wage gap in Spain between men and women is 24% and, therefore, about €5,252 per year. One of the reasons, CCOO points out, is that three quarters of workers who have part-time employment contracts are women. Only 7% of men do not work full time, a percentage that rises to 24% in the case of women.