As communicated in a recent report by the European Commission, altogether women in the 27 European Member States were still earning an average of 15% less than men in 2005--a situation that has not changed since 1995.
The study looked across all economy sectors so it is difficult to say how much this pay gap actually affects women scientists. But what doesn´t bode well for them is that, according to the report, women with third-level education experienced a pay gap of more than 30%, compared to 13% for those with secondary education. And it sounds as though the gap will only grow as women grow older. According to the report, the professional progression of women tends to be slower because of more frequent career breaks and more obstacles along their career paths. As a consequence the gap grows with age, with female employees with over 30 years of service in a company being paid 32% less than men on the payroll for the same period of time, while the difference was 'only' 22% for those with 1 to 5 years of service.
"Girls out-perform boys at school and more women enter the labour market with a university degree than men, but a pay gap of 15% persists. This is an absurd situation and needs to change," said Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in a press release. "The pay gap is a complex issue with multiple causes. Sometimes we see pure discrimination. But often reasons are hidden: women do more unpaid work, like taking care of the household and dependents; more women work part time and often the women-dominated sectors are on a lower pay scale."
Many European countries are increasingly trying to tackle the issue and the EU intends to shift up a gear. But no-one can serve your own interests as well as yourself. The issue is more complex than asking equal pay for equal work, but be aware of what you´re worth and whenever possible, negotiate family responsibilities.