SOCIETY: Cyprus has hard glass ceiling for women in senior management

When it comes to promoting women in senior management positions Cyprus has a poor record in the EU with only 11.2% in the boardroom, although this figure is up 0.8 percentage points from 2017.

At the bottom of the pile is Estonia with only 8% of female board members followed by Greece on 9.1%.

The share of women in boards of the largest listed companies in Europe was 26.7% in 2018.

Between 2003 and 2017, there was an almost steady increase of 16.8 percentage points. However, the numbers mean that three out of four board members of largest listed companies are still men.

The EU data on board members nevertheless provide evidence of the positive impact of legislative action on the issue of female representation in boards.

The share of women is lower when considering only the members of the second highest decision-making body of the largest listed companies.

In 2017, the share of female members in the two highest decision-making bodies was 15.8% across the EU; in 2012, it was 10.4%. The fact that senior management positions are more likely to be held by men is one of the reasons for the gender pay gap.

The share of female board members varied considerably between EU countries. In 2017, France was the closest to parity in boards with 43.4 % female members. In the same year, Estonia had only 7.4 % female board members.

While the representation of women in corporate boards improved in most Member States, the changes between 2012 and 2017 have been far from uniform.

Italy, France and Belgium stand out with increases of over 17 percentage points, while at the other end of the spectrum there has been no significant progress (less than two percentage points) in Slovakia and Latvia and even a decline in Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Estonia.

The gender gap in Cyprus was 13.7% in 2017, only a slight improvement on the year before (13.9%) but a decade previously it was 22%. The EU average last year was 16%.

When it comes to gender employment the gap in Cyprus is narrower at 9.5% than the EU average of 11.5% while Malta has the largest gap at 24.1%.

Since 2011, both the gender employment gap and the gender pay gap have narrowed in the EU, with the gender employment gap reaching 11.5 percentage points in 2017 and the gender pay gap reaching 16.2% in 2016.

These levels are 0.7 percentage points (for the employment gap) and 0.6 percentage points (for the pay gap) lower than five years before, indicating that gender differences have declined more quickly for employment rates than for wages.

The picture is slightly different regarding the inactive population outside the labour market. Women were far more likely to be economically inactive due to caring responsibilities, for example, for children or other family members.

In 2016, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 16.2% below those of men in the EU. There are various reasons for the existence and size of the gender pay gap such as the kind of jobs held by women in terms of sectors or occupations, consequences of career breaks or part-time work due to childbearing and caring responsibilities and decisions in favour of family life.

Thus, the pay gap is linked to a number of legal, social and economic factors which go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work.

In 2016, the gender pay gap was generally much lower for new labour market entrants and tended to widen with age.

This age effect might be a result of the career interruptions women experience during their working life, with older women in particular unable to benefit from specific equality measures that did not exist when they started work, such as flexible working arrangements or childcare facilities.

In 11 Member States, the gender pay gap was most distinct in the ‘financial and insurance activities’ sector, with the gross hourly earnings for women on average more than 30% below those of men in 2016.

Four Member States each had the highest gender pay gaps in the ‘professional, scientific and technical activities’ sector and in the ‘other service activities’ sector.

In contrast, many Member States reported higher average earnings for women than for men in the construction sector and in the ‘water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities’ sector.

These negative gender pay gaps might be due to the so-called selection effect, meaning that only women with higher skills are attracted to these industries.

Source: The Financial Mirror