What do we know about Gender Pay Gap?

What do we know about Gender Pay Gap?

Most people across Europe recognise the pay gap between women and men is a structural problem.


30 August 2016

Most people across Europe recognise the pay gap between women and men is a structural problem.

We have gone out to the streets in different EU countries and asked people what they thought about the Gender Pay Gap (GPG). These are their answers:

The European and national Gender Pay Gap Days have been an awareness-raising instrument that have proved to increase awareness of the discrepancy in pay across gender. The pay gap between women and men is an old problem and it’s widely known. However, why is it not diminishing?

The project Gender Pay Gap: New solutions for an old problem has shown that, even if there are sector-specific causes and characteristics, the Gender Pay Gap is rooted in the system, it’s a complex problem with interrelated structural causes which underpin it. Moreover, the potential solutions are difficult to implement because of social, organisational, economic, political and cultural reasons. Individual actions don’t seem very effective. However, there are structural strategies which have been proved effective to different extents in different contexts.

This action research project, in which the Tavistock Institute is a partner, has combined an evidence-based approach with direct work with and the engagement of strategic stakeholders to tackle the Gender Pay Gap (GPG): trade unions, gender equality units and civil society. The national action plans developed for Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Estonia and Spain have been inspired by the Swedish experience.


Sweden’s ’15:57′ national movement consists of organisations from the women’s movement, trade unions and political women’s associations, with the mutual ambition to put pressure on the government and employers to achieve two objectives: same pay for equivalent work and that women get paid all day. The name ‘15:57’ reflects that women work unpaid after 15:57 (3:57 pm) every day, calculated on a working day from 8 to 5. In Sweden, the GPG was 13.2% in 2015.

Trade unions and gender equality bodies across the EU, which recognise the GPG as a problem that needs to be tackled, have learnt about different strategies and tools used in the different countries. The most innovative and effective approaches proposed are structural or systemic, such as: a reform to provide equal,
non-transferable and fully paid parental leave for fathers and mothers; a law on the GPG which includes the obligation of gender neutral classifications of functions and annual reports with official data; a tool-box for testing equal pay; or the provision of universal free education for children from the end of the parental leave period to the age in which education is mandatory.

The GPG project has contributed to a path of change needed to close the gender pay gap. However, there is still much room for improvement and need for more coordinated actions in all the countries involved. We need to speed up the change if we are to support a fair and productive labour market, economy and society.  In Sweden, they have calculated that it will take more than 50 years (that is until 2068) to fully close the gap there, if moving forward continues at its current pace. Most countries are in a worse situation.

Do you want to foster the change? Do you want to close the gender pay gap in your country?

You can join the gender watch watchers network to learn and/or to provide useful resources and strategies. The movement is starting and you can be part of the solution!

The main conclusions and strategies that will enable the gender pay gap to close, according to the collaborative work with stakeholders carried out over two years across Europe within the GPG project, as well as tools and national and comparative reports are available on the project website.

For more information on this project please contact: Cristina Castellanos, TIHR Senior Researcher / Consultant.

This project is co-funded by the PROGRESS Programme of the European Union.

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