Portugal’s female professionals still earn less than their male counterparts and, even though women may be better qualified, men still hold more top jobs in this country.
New research by the Committee for Equality in Work and Employment (CITE) released this week to mark International Women’s Day on Thursday (8 March) shows that women in Portugal earn, on average, around 16.7 percent less than men.
In an interview with Lusa News Agency, Joana Gíria, President of the Committee, addressed the disparities in wages, saying they have suffered a “tenuous evolution.”
“If we compare the latest available data with the previous data for 2013, women in Portugal earned on average 17.9 percent less in monthly basic earnings than men, compared to 16.7 percent in 2014. A very small difference, yes, But we should face that with expectation of improvement and progress”, she pointed out.
It is a percentage that means a woman, to earn the same wage as a man, needs to work an extra 61 days or two months per year.
With regard to professional qualifications, Joana Gíria stressed “the wage difference between men and women is proportional to the levels of qualification”, that is, “the higher the level of qualification, the higher the wage differential, which is especially high among the upper management positions.
“Although women in Portugal nowadays have better qualifications (undergraduate, masters, doctorate) and, consequently, adequate qualifications to exercise top leadership positions, it continues to be men who predominantly occupy such positions.”
In the CITE president’s opinion, “opting for peers, to the detriment of women, corresponds very much to the inadequate and stubborn persistence of a socially rooted stereotype: woman=family caregiver vs. man=household provider.”
Ms. Gíria argued that even when women do reach top positions, most continue to see household chores or family tasks, such as caring for their children or other dependents, as their main responsibility.
“In Portugal, there are more women graduates, masters and PhD students than men in equal circumstances. The time has come to stop wasting human capital and make choices based on merit, and it is time for the world of work to reflect social reality”, highlighting how, on the other hand, “women are the majority among the unemployed population with higher education qualifications”, which shows the “great difficulties” that women face in the job market, even when they have the necessary qualifications.
In Joana Gíria’s view, there is a “marked discrepancy” in the sharing of unpaid work between men and women, and it is women who, although working mostly full-time, do “most of the domestic work.”
“It is also women who most limit their daily working hours, their professional activity and their careers for family reasons”, she said, adding that for this reason, women are also the ones who most strive to reconcile work and family life.
In 2016, CITE issued 95 opinions requested of it by employers looking to fire a pregnant or breast-feeding employee, or new mothers, and received 58 complaints regarding parental matters such as maternity leave, equality and gender discrimination.