[Brussels, 22 March] Majority of Europeans view gender inequality as a serious problem. Two recent opinion polls, on gender equality in general and women in decision-making in specific, reveal that Europeans expect EU-level action, in particular to bring more women to company boards.
Gender inequalities in Europe
A survey on gender inequalities in the European Union commissioned by the European Parliament for the International Women’s Day reveals that although a majority of Europeans believe that gender inequalities have tended to decline over the past ten years (60%), over half of respondents believe that these inequalities are a major problem in their country (52%).
The inequalities regarded as most important are violence against women (48%), ahead of pay gaps (43%) and trafficking in women and prostitution comes in third place with 36%.
The European Parliament study asked Europeans more specifically about their view of the pay gap. As regards the best level at which to tackle the it, 47% of Europeans are in favour of action at EU level, 38% of action at national level and 11% of action at local or regional level.
Respondents were also asked about the measures which would do the most to reduce the pay gap between women and men. On this point, Europeans are divided on whether incentives or penalties would be more effective, with very similar scores being recorded for ’facilitating access for women and men to any type of employment’ (27%), ’imposing financial penalties on companies that do not respect gender equality’ (26%) and ’transparent pay scales in companies’ (24%).
Women in decision-making positions
A survey by the European Commission focuses on the Europeans’ opinion on equal representation of women and men in decision-making positions.
Nearly nine out of ten Europeans agree that given equal competence, women should be equally represented in leadership of companies. Three quarters of Europeans are in favour of legislation on gender balance on company boards. There is a slight preferance for measures to be taken at EU level rather than at national level.
Read the European Parliament study here.
Read the special Eurobarometer on women in decision-making positions here.