Are Czech women discriminated against in the workplace?

Are Czech women discriminated against in the workplace? A question which many women would answer with an emphatic YES. Their employers would give you an emphatic NO. And law makers would tell you that the country's current legislation bans discrimination of women in any form. Yet, the latest figures published by the Czech Statistical Office suggest that while all seems right on the surface - there are some notable discrepancies to be accounted for. Daniela Lazarova has the story:

So let me start with some of those figures. Women doctors in the Czech Republic make on average 5,300 crowns less than their male colleagues. Saleswomen make on average 4,300 crowns less than salesmen and waitresses make on average 2,000 crowns less than waiters. Yet inspectors sent to investigate possible forms of discrimination at the work place rarely find anything illegal. Women's rights activists say that employers know the ropes and practice hidden forms of discrimination which are hard to prove. In cases where a male employee has been replaced by a female employee - they make a slight change to the list of work duties and save a few thousand crowns in the process - without actually getting less work from the employee in question. After the authorities cracked down on firms putting out ads which said "male applicants only" most firms have stopped doing it -but the only effect this has had is that the female applicants who go to the job interview waste their time. And despite protests - female applicants still get asked about personal matters - when they plan to have children, how often their children get sick, whether they have a family member willing to baby sit and so on. Some claim that a university degree and an assistants' position does not stop the boss saying "Would you mind making coffee for me and for our visitors?" Women's rights activists say that while not all women in this country are discriminated against in the work place -many of them are. They make less money, have fewer job opportunities and have to work much harder than men to get promoted . Some women who find themselves in this plight walk out and get a better job. But practically none of them ever take their case to court. In this country court cases drag on for years and hidden forms of discrimination are hard to prove. In the meantime the woman would be labeled a trouble maker which would make her position on the labor market even worse. Labor experts say that employers are aware of this fact and abuse it " within the law " so to speak. When times are bad, they give less money to their female employees because they know that women are less likely to walk out since their value on the job market is lower. It's a vicious circle and until Czech women are prepared to break it things will remain pretty much as they are.