The gender wage gap impacts women all over the world. According to USB Management Review, the gender wage gap is “the difference in wages between men and women for the same type of work or work of equal value.” With women bearing the brunt of the gender wage gap, the gender wage gap presents a barrier to gender equality, the progression of women and global poverty reduction overall. Although the Government of France has made progress in the realm of gender equality, the gender wage gap in France still puts female citizens at a notable disadvantage.
The Gender Wage Gap in France and Europe Overall
In 2018, the gender wage gap in France stood at 15.2%, slightly below the European average of 16.2% in the same year. Essentially, this statistic means that men in France earned 15.2% more than women for work of the same nature. In 2019, the European average wage gap saw improvement, dropping to 14.1% while France saw a rise in the gender wage gap, climbing to 16.5%, the 10th highest in the European Union. Estonia had the highest gender wage gap at 21.7% while Luxembourg had the lowest at just 1.3%. The feminist French newsletter, Les Glorieuses, explained that, in 2021, the gender wage gap in France essentially equated to women working without pay from November 3, 2021.
Contributing Factors to the Gender Wage Gap in France
Women tend to unfairly shoulder the burden of child care and household responsibilities, which is why 80% of women’s employment in France falls within the part-time job sector in an attempt to balance all these responsibilities. Overall, women spend a significant amount of time on unpaid work, such as household chores, in comparison to men. When women give birth to their first child, typically between 30 and 35, differences in pay become even more apparent. In addition, maternity leave tends to unfairly impact the career progression of women, placing them at another disadvantage for promotions.
Women in the Workplace
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranks France 16th globally for its gender pay gap size. The result is a consequence of low scoring in the category of Economic Participation and Opportunity for women in France, taking the 58th rank in this category globally.
In France, “women only hold 34.6% of senior and managerial positions,” which is a lower rate than the United Kingdom at 36.8% and the U.S. at 42%. Yet, France and 25 other nations take first place rankings in regard to “educational attainment for women.” Only a single company “out of France’s 40 largest companies” has a female running it — Engie, a utility company with CEO Catherine MacGregor at the helm.
Progress for Women in France’s Workplace
France passed the Cope-Zimmermann law 11 years ago, which established “quotas for the gender balance of company boards, with the aim of reaching a minimum representation of 40% for each gender.” The law mandated that within three years of its passing, “20% of a company’s board members must be women, rising to 40% within the following six years.” This law applied only to certain companies within specific turnover and employee thresholds. Currently, France is taking the global lead in this regard, with 43% of women’s representation in company boards. In comparison, the United Kingdom has a 36% representation in this regard while Sweden has 35%.
In response to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women, the “European Commission has published a drafted law that would force companies with [more than] 250 employees to publicly release annual statistics on their employees’ salaries.” The same disclosure is applicable for smaller-scale companies, “though only upon request by an employee and not to the public.” These pay transparency reports would help fight the gender wage gap. For the draft to take effect, it requires “a majority vote by the European Parliament and a unanimous agreement among all 27 member states’ governments.”
The ongoing efforts to close the gender wage in France and dismantle gender inequality barriers allow women to see the same advancement and progression as their male counterparts.
– Sierrah Martin