Italy’s Gender Pay Gap May Look Good, But It’s Not

Although it ranks favorably in gender pay gap, Italy cannot crow too loud about it.

Italy is doing better than the rest of Europe in terms of gender pay gap, but the situation of Italian women is not looking very good for different reasons.

Gender pay gap in Europe

Indeed, Eurostat published the data (referring to 2016) concerning the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees and Italy boasts the second lowest gap (5,3%) after Romania, where women earn 5,2% less than men. On the contrary, the negative record belongs to Estonia (25,3%), immediately followed by Czech Republic (21,8%) and one of the richest countries in Europe, such as Germany (21,5%). The average gender pay gap in the whole European Union is still very high, as the disparity in earnings between men and women reaches 16,2%.

Source: Eurostat

The Eurostat study also highlights different perspectives explaining the reasons that are causing such a large scale problem. For example, ‘the gender pay gap might increase with age as a result of the career interruptions women experience during their working life, particularly older women unable to benefit from specific equality measures which did not yet exist when they started to work’.

Moreover, part of the disparities can be explained by the fact that women struggle to access to sectors and positions with a higher average distribution. This means that the gender pay gap is linked to various legal, cultural and social factors affecting women’s lives well beyond their hourly earnings.

The situation of women in Italy

Therefore, although it ranks favorably in this table, Italy cannot crow too loud about it. Indeed, according to the ‘The Global Gender Gap 2017 Report‘ published by the World Economic Forum, Italy is only 82nd in the global index measuring the gender gap in broader terms. These statistics include factors such as economic participation and opportunity (where Italy ranks 118th), educational attainment (60th), health and survival (123th) and political empowerment (46th).

Source: World Economic Forum

In conclusion, the situation of Italian women is getting a lot worse, considering that Italy ranked 50th in the previous yearly report. Although the country comes first in terms of women enrolment in tertiary education, the estimate is pretty cold for all the other indicators. The score card brings to light all the limits of a countrywide system that needs to be changed as soon as possible for the increasing achievement of full equal treatment between genders.