Labour Ministry unveils plan to promote gender equality in salaries

Foto ilustrativa: Tomáš Adamec, ČRo

Women make up 44 percent of the country’s workforce but the vast majority still earn significantly less than men holding similar positions. Surveys indicate that the wage gap is seven thousand crowns a month on average in the private sector and five thousand in the public sphere. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is now striving to change that with a five year project that includes guidelines and benefits for employers as well as advice for women on how to address the issue at job interviews. I asked Veronika Šprincová of Forum 50 % how effective she thought the project would be.

Veronika Šprincová,  photo: archive of Veronika Šprincová
“I think that what is really positive is that she [Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova] targets both sides –that is both employers and employees, in this case mainly women. Employers will be provided with guidelines telling them how to promote gender equality and women will be provided with advice on how to increase their chances of getting the same salary or gaining the same position as men regardless of their gender.”

Why is it so difficult for women to ask for more?

“The truth is that as regards women part of the problem is that they are sometimes less confident, but at the same time they know what the situation looks like and surveys show that when women ask for a higher salary or to get the same as their male colleagues they are rejected. Asking for more money is not considered appropriate for women and if they do they can have problems at the workplace. So I think it is a complex problem – that they are afraid to ask for more and do not feel confident enough sometimes.”

Why are employers paying women less – is it simply because they can get away with it?

“That’s part of it, of course, but I think that persisting gender stereotypes are at the core of the problem, this idea that the man is the breadwinner and the woman is primarily the care giver in the family which leads to the belief that women’s salaries are not so important as men’s salaries, but I think this is totally unrealistic. Especially for single mothers this is a really painful issue, because they are paid less even though they are breadwinners as well as care-givers. So I think this gender stereotyping is at the bottom of the problem.”

Photo: Tomáš Adamec,  Czech Radio
So what would make employers change their attitude – tax breaks or some benefits?

“Definitely, I think that these measures would help. I think it is good to combine various ways, various measures – that means benefits as well as awareness raising, explaining why it is beneficial for them to promote gender equality as well as introducing positive measures such as gender quotas.”