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The gender wage gap is one of the main problems for the development of society and is an obstacle to equal opportunities. To address this issue, it has been shown that the most effective measures are based on knowledge of its causes.” This is explained in the good practice guide Effective Measures for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men of the Women’s Institute and the Spanish Ministry of Health and Social Services and Equality.

According to data from the European Parliament, updated in April 2021, women working in the European Union earn 14% less per hour on average than men. Within the EU, this gap varies widely from one country to another. The highest figures are found in Estonia with 21.7%, Latvia 21.2%, Austria 19.9%, Germany 19.2%, Czech Republic 18.9%, Slovakia with 18.4% and Hungary 18.2%.


But is the wage gap and wage discrimination the same thing or are they different concepts? The wage difference, also called the wage gap or wage inequality, refers to the gap between what men and women earn on average, the distance between men’s and women’s salaries.

Wage discrimination is described as “ex post” discrimination. What does this mean? This refers to the part of the wage gap that is based on strictly discriminatory motivations, i.e., that part of the wage gap that cannot be justified by reasons other than the sex of the employed person.

Therefore, we can conclude that wage discrimination occurs in the workplace and that it is determined by factors that condition women’s access to the labor market under the same conditions as men. Wage discrimination, on the other hand, occurs when the job is already being filled. The wage gap shows the discrimination and inequalities in the labor market that mainly affect women.


Taking up the factors of the gender pay gap set out in “Wage gap: causes and indicators”, this gap responds to varied and complex causes that require a comprehensive approach and action on direct discrimination, the criteria for evaluating different occupations, inequalities in the market, gender stereotypes and the business culture generated by beliefs and discriminatory factors.

Some of the factors of the gender wage gap are:

  • The social and economic valuation of the work performed by women is lower than that of men, facing the discrimination of being paid less than men when they are equally qualified, work under the same conditions and within the same occupational categories. This is one of the most common factors of the wage gap and its perpetuation.
  • The different positions of women and men in the workplace, marked by gender relations and in which there is job segregation: later incorporation of women into different sectors and work levels, women occupying positions of responsibility, inferior working conditions, etc. 
  • Another cause of the wage gap is the massive incorporation of women into the workforce. Why? Because it has not been accompanied by an equal sharing of family responsibilities between women and men. Therefore, the incorporation of women into the labor market has meant and continues to mean an obligatory relinquishment of the right to be promoted to better positions with better salaries.
  • Today’s work culture and business culture require full dedication to the company and a priority over any other facet of life. Remuneration and professional promotion are associated with this full dedication, a condition that some women respond to a lesser extent due to the factor mentioned above: not sharing domestic and family responsibilities in an equitable manner.


According to the Observatory for Equality and Employment the gender wage gap can be eliminated through greater transparency on salaries and more salary audits of companies. This is something that all companies must commit to and implement in order to detect pay inequalities and prevent them from continuing to occur.

On the other hand, to encourage quality employment. That is, one that takes responsibility and adopts measures of conciliation, promotes the professional growth of women without any type of gender discrimination.

Finally, the promotion of gender equality and equal opportunities between men and women by raising awareness among the entire population is considered key. It is important to raise awareness from schools with education from an early age, but also in all areas of life.

Eliminating the gender pay gap is a right, because equal pay for men and women indicates that rights are being respected and the work that women also do is being recognized. It means more productivity, a more competitive labor market and more motivated workers. It contributes to greater participation of women in the economy, so ending the gender wage gap is fighting poverty.