Break the “glass walls”!

On International Women’s Day, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) calls on men and women to break the glass walls that segregate the sexes in different occupations at work – and reach more gender equality in the labour market.
Women continue to be held back:
• not only by glass ceilings that stop them rising up the work hierarchy,
• but also by glass walls that segregate women into particular jobs and shut them out of others.

The figures are stark:
• 4% of drivers, building workers and mechanics are women;
• 18% of engineering and computing professionals are women;
• 80% of teaching and healthcare professionals are women;
women outnumber men in the so-called “5Cs” occupations: catering, cleaning, caring, clerical and cashiering;
• 4% of CEOs of listed companies are women and only around 22% of supervisory boards members are women.

In the five years 2005-2010 gender segregation of jobs actually increased across Europe!

“We must break the glass walls. Women are overrepresented in occupations that offer lower wages than jobs predominantly carried out by men, which largely explains the average 16% gender pay gap across Europe. More should be done to enable women to enter, stay and progress in occupations that are male-dominated. At the same time wages and conditions need to be improved in female dominated sectors,” said Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary.

“No country in Europe is free from gender segregation at work – there are glass ceilings and walls that separate us. This is bad for women and men. Talent is being wasted, literally on an industrial scale. Ending gender segregation at work should be of one the priorities of an EU Strategy on gender equality that still has not materialised, despite the unions’ calls,” said Montserrat Mir, ETUC Confederal Secretary.

Here is what Eurofound’s sixth report of working conditions in Europe shows:
“Gender segregation is a persistent feature of European labour markets. Despite progress, women and men continue to experience differences at work across many dimensions, ranging from occupation and sector to contract type, pay and working time.”

“Over half of all workers report that they share their job title mainly with workers of the same sex as themselves (58% of men and 54% of women), while just one-fifth (21%) of workers report sharing their job title with equal proportions of women and men.”

“In terms of hierarchical segregation, the proportion of employees overall who report having a female supervisor has increased from 24% in 2000 to 33% in 2015. However, two-thirds of employees (67%) still have a male supervisor. Closer analysis reveals further gender differences: half of female employees have a female supervisor, compared to only 15% of men.”
The ETUC is currently collecting good practices by trade unions which have been successful in finding solutions, including through collective bargaining.