Breaking the glass walls!

(8 March 2016) 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 to reach more equality in the labour market.

ETUC points out that women continue to be held back not only by glass ceilings that prevent them from rising up the career ladder, but also by glass walls that segregate women into particular jobs and shut them out of others.

Stark figures show that just 4% of drivers, building workers and mechanics are women; the same percentage represents the proportion of CEOs of listed companies that are female. Meanwhile a huge 80% of teaching and healthcare professionals are women, who also outnumber men in the so-called “5Cs” occupations: catering, cleaning, caring, clerical and cashiering.

Luca Visentini, General Secretary of ETUC, said: “Women are overrepresented in occupations that offer lower wages than jobs predominantly carried out by men, which mainly explains the average 16% gender pay gap across Europe.” Montserrat Mir, ETUC Confederal Secretary, added: “No country in Europe is free from gender segregation at work [and] talent is being wasted, literally on an industrial scale. Ending gender segregation at work should be one of the priorities of [an] EU Strategy on gender equality that still has not materialized, despite the unions’ calls.”

The ETUC is in the process of collecting good practices from trade unions who have been successful in finding solutions to these problems, including through collective bargaining.

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