German gender pay gap unchanged at 21 percent

Germany failed to close its gender pay gap last year, not even marginally, federal statisticians concluded on Thursday, attributing much of the difference to “structural” reasons such caring for family and employment in lower-paying jobs.

Comparing gross pay figures from 2017 and 2018, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) found men earned €21.60 hourly while women were paid on average 21 percent less, earning only €17.09 as gross hourly pay with almost every second woman employed part-time.

Germany’s work-force in 2017 included 10.6 million part-time workers. Of the total workforce, only 9 percent were men, while 47 percent were women.

Typically, women worked in lower-pay job sectors, seldom reached executive positions, or had “mini-jobs” earning up to €450 a month – a job category proscribed within Germany’s social security law books.

Care sector versus job advancement?

Asked why they worked part-time, women often cited child care and needy dependents, while men said they did so to pursue training or boost qualifications.

Looking closer at those earners in equivalent jobs and with equal qualifications, women ended up with 6 percent less than their male counterparts, said Destatis in formulating its “adjusted pay gap” using data from 2014.

Elderly ‘working poor’

Munich ethnology professor Irene Götz, who has authored a book on retirees’ survival strategies, said many elderly women have little option but to pursue paid work.

“Becoming old doesn’t mean retirement, but instead poverty,” said Götz told Germany’s Protestant news agency epd.

The pension-age gender gap was even higher, she said, because lower earnings during their careers meant lower pension entitlements for women, who often felt ashamed and did not apply for social welfare.

“It was once standard — and even a status symbol — that women interrupted their careers to raise children,” said Götz. “Girls were less encouraged” to pursue careers.

Divorce and separation compounded their situations, said Götz, because women “depended on male-provider marriages.

Gender marketing?

To mark next Monday’s “Equal Pay Day,” Berlin city-state’s BVG transport authority is advertising a Women’s Ticket in what it claims is a worldwide first.

The ticket would cost €5.50 and therefore 21 percent less than the normal city-wide daylong ticket priced at €7, said the BVG.

ipj/sms (dpa, epd, KNA)

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