Women and men still show very different career choice and employment behaviour, which affects career and income. Therefore, the average salary of all women in Germany is 20% lower than that of all men (Stat. Bundesamt, 2020). Because of this figure, the myth is fed that women are paid less because of their gender. This accusation of discrimination is false. Instead, many structural causes are responsible for the income situation of women.
Career choice and employment behaviour of women and men still differs
In determining the macroeconomic pay gap, the average salary of all female employees is compared with that of all male employees, i.e., for example, an entry-level retail worker in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with a managing director in the metal and electrical industry in Bavaria. Qualifications, work experience, occupation, sector, working hours, etc. are not taken into account. The published macroeconomic pay differences are therefore not based on a comparison of the pay of men and women in the same company, with comparable qualifications and in the same job.
The employment behaviour of women and men still differs considerably. For example, women and men are represented very differently in the individual sectors and occupations as well as at the hierarchical levels. There are also significant differences in individual work experience. These factors also explain why, for example, not all employees in the same occupational group receive the same salary. A nurse in an intensive care unit with fifteen years of professional experience, for example, earns significantly more than a nurse in a normal hospital ward and with only three years of professional experience.
After deducting the causes of pay differentials taken into account by the Federal Statistical Office, such as working hours, level of education or length of service, an adjusted pay differential of 6% remains (Stat. Bundesamt, 2020).
Cliché-free study and career guidance is necessary
Women are disproportionately often employed in sectors and occupations with low remuneration levels or lower qualification requirements. These include above all jobs in the area of simple services.
A broader use of the spectrum of occupations and study choices would reduce macroeconomic pay differentials: The TOP 5 occupational choices of girls from the broad spectrum of almost 330 training occupations are still medical assistant, office clerk, sales assistant and retail saleswoman as well as dental assistant (
). The choice of subject is also still gender-specific. Women are much less likely to be represented in subjects such as mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology (so-called MINT subjects), which have a particularly promising future and are often associated with higher-paying jobs later on: The share of women among employed STEM academics was 22% in 2017, while the share among
There is an urgent need for better study and career guidance that also provides information about earning opportunities and inspires more women to take up STEM professions. The initiative klischee-frei.de with the website of the same name is a first step towards study and career guidance that is free of role clichés.
The economy supports the initiative stereotype-free. Young people should look at the entire spectrum of occupations and not be guided by what are supposed to be women's or men's occupations. Many young women still opt for apprenticeships and courses of study that offer only limited earning opportunities. We want to change this and thus also contribute to narrowing the wage gap that still exists between women and men.
). This contributes to the fact that employed women in the new Länder work full-time more often than women in western Germany. The overall unadjusted pay gap in the east is therefore only 7 %, while it is 21 % in the west (
The good childcare situation facilitates extensive gainful employment for women and thus career advancement: in eastern Germany, the proportion of women in management positions is higher than in western Germany at both the first management level and the second (
). At the second management level, women in eastern Germany are represented in proportion to their share of employees, at 45 %.
Employers have long advocated improving the framework conditions for more full-time and near-full-time employment. This requires, in particular, the further expansion of high-quality, needs-based and affordable all-day day-care facilities and all-day schools, as well as the full taxation of childcare costs.
Part-time work and career breaks slow down careers
Those who work less acquire less professional experience and knowledge and thus have poorer career and earning opportunities. Reduced working hours and more frequent career breaks are therefore a major reason why women advance less and earn less accordingly. 47 % of all employed women in Germany work part-time (Eurostat, 2020), while the figure for mothers is around 70 % (Stat. Bundesamt, 2020).
Financial incentives against taking up a job or for working only on a small scale should be removed, e.g. tax class III and V. As a tax relief, work-related childcare costs should be fully deductible within the framework of tax ceilings.
Same work for the same employer is paid the same
If women do the same work for the same employer as a man, then they are also paid the same. This is not only company practice, but is also required by law.
Classification procedures regulated by collective agreements ensure equal pay for equal work.
A cross-industry evaluation of activities as equivalent is not possible in any case. Statutory regulations on job evaluation would not do justice to company and sector-specific particularities and would be an encroachment on the autonomy of collective bargaining.