The promotion of equality between women and men is a task that the Union must develop in its initiatives, actions, policies and activities. As stated in Article 8 of the Treaty on the Founding of the EU: “In all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women”.
Despite this declaration of intent, the lack of equal opportunities between men and women remains a major problem within the EU: at the end of 2019, the average employment rate for women aged 20-64 was 67.7% compared to 79% for men, and women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 14.1 % below those of men in the EU, with Germany (18.3%) or Austria (18.9) at the top of this sad figure (Eurostat, 2021).
Regarding the latter, the number of women in corporate leadership is low: in April 2019, women accounted for only 23.3% of board members in the largest listed companies registered in EU countries, and only 6.3% of CEOs were women, far from the objective of 40% set by the EU in 2012.
We can go one step forward with the situation generated after the Covid 19. The economic impact of the pandemic has been suffered to a greater degree by women, coining even the concept “she-cession”. Women were more likely than men to lose their jobs in 17 of the 24 rich countries where unemployment rose last year, according to the latest annual PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Women in Work Index.
In this context, the gender gap can be explained by the so-called “glass ceiling”. This is the existence of a constraint on women to rise to higher positions in their careers. As a consequence of traditional gender roles and stereotypes, lack of
support for balancing care responsibilities with work, and political and corporate cultures. The issue of ‘equality in decision-making’ is high on the Union’s political agenda. It cooperates and supports all stakeholders to design and implement activities at EU level on gender balance in leadership positions.
- Understand the origin of the glass ceiling and the implications for women and society in general.
- To understand the gender roles that construct this reality.
- Deconstruct the corporate culture that hierarchically masculinised organisations.
- Dismantle the mental structures that adapt women to this scheme.
- To break down prejudices regarding the promotion of women to decision-making positions.
- Understanding the value of soft skills and socio-emotional competencies in this process.
- Involve all social actors in the fight against the glass ceiling.