Reduction of the Gender Wage Gap is a Time-Consuming Process
The gender wage gap influences all members of the society in one way or another.
According to Eurostat data of 2007, Estonia with its 30.9 per cent wage difference of men and women placed the highest in comparison with other European countries. It is important to explain that the average gender wage gap does not mean that Estonian employers pay a female employee nearly one third less than to a man for the same work.
The research ordered by the Ministry of Social Affairs reveals that the average gender wage gap in Estonia can mainly be explained by gender segregation of the labour market, that is, by the fact that Estonian women and men are gathered in different professions and areas of activity. There are few men and women who do a similar job. Women more frequently work in less paid positions. This is also confirmed by the impact of the recent economic crisis on the wage gap. In 2008, the salary gap of men and women was 31 per cent and in 2009 the gender difference of wages was 27 per cent. Men were more often working in the spheres where the economic activity shrunk due to the crisis, for example in the construction sector. Therefore, in general, incomes of men also decreased.
In Estonia, men have the similar right to be on parental leave as women but men seldom use this right. In December 2010, fathers formed 5.5 per cent of the people receiving parental benefit. Establishing of the individual right to the leave for parents for fathers might be considered. An individual period of the leave for parents intended for the father would on the one hand mitigate the long career gaps of women and, on the other hand, it would indicate that the state recognises the role of the father as the person who brings up a child and takes care of the child. In addition to that, the period of parental benefit should be made more flexible: to enable a parent to work part time and to receive the parental benefit for a longer period, at the same time sharing taking care of the child and working with the other parent. There is no reliable and sufficiently detailed information concerning remunerations in Estonia. The people’s own initiative and awareness plays a great role in negotiations. Greater transparency of salary systems would reduce experiences of unequal treatment among employees and would create preconditions for receiving equal pay for equal jobs.