Women in Germany earn nearly a fifth less than men

Women in Germany continue to be paid significantly less than their male colleagues, with an average difference in wages of 18 percent.

Women in Germany earn nearly a fifth less than men
"Finally close the pay gap!" is written on a banner at an Equal Pay Day event at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

A report by the German Federal Statistical Office released on Monday showed that in 2021, women in Germany earned on average 18 percent less per hour than men.

The results of the report, released on Germany’s “Equal Pay Day” on March 7th, ahead of International Women’s Day, showed that, in 2021 women earned an average of €19.12 per hour while men earned an average of €23.10 per hour – a difference of €4.08.

READ ALSO: How has the Covid pandemic impacted gender equality in Germany?

The so-called gender pay gap remained almost the same as the previous year: in 2020 the difference was €4.16.

However, the gender pay gap in Germany has been steadily decreasing over the past 15 years and has fallen by 4 percent since 2006.

More women in Part-time jobs and mini-jobs

According to the statistics, differences between the type of jobs and sectors which women and men work in accounts for the majority (71 percent) of the difference in earnings.

Women work more often in sectors and occupations where pay is lower and where they are less likely to reach management positions. Also, women are much more likely to have part-time jobs or mini-jobs than men.

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More than two-thirds of mothers ‘currently employed’ in Germany

The proportion of employed mothers with young children on the rise in Germany - but the latest statistics also reveal persistent gender inequalities.

More than two-thirds of mothers 'currently employed' in Germany

Since 2005, the percentage of mums who were working alongside childcare duties has gone up by nine percent to 69 percent, according to micro-census data published by the Federal Office of Statistics (Destatis).

Over the same period, the percent of working fathers also slid up slightly from 88 percent to 92 percent.

But while the majority of fathers were in full-time employment, most mothers were still in part-time work. According to Destatis, this dynamic applied to 65 percent of the couples surveyed.

The biggest gender differences applied to families with newborn babies.

READ ALSO: Parents in Germany ‘facing burnout’ due to limited childcare options

In households with a child less than one-year old, one in eight mothers (13 percent) were employed in 2022, compared to 87 percent of fathers. It’s common for mothers in Germany, however, to take upwards of a year of parental leave, paid at 65 percent of their salary.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about parental leave in Germany

For children aged two to under three, 64 percent of mothers and 92 percent of fathers were employed.

There was also a much bigger jump in the number of mothers in employment as the age of the child increased. Among fathers, the difference was much less dramatic.

The dramatic increase in the number of mothers in employment can be partly put down to the expansion of childcare services during this time, Destatis explained.

However, legislation designed to encourage fathers to contribute more to childcare – such as the 2007 parental allowance (Elternzeit) scheme – seems not have had a limited effect, as the number of fathers in work also increased over this period.

The statistics point to a very unequal distribution of paid work between mothers and fathers as well as a very unequal distribution of unpaid care work, said Bettina Kohlrausch, scientific director of the Hans Böckler Foundation’s Economic and Social Science Institute.

The figures also demonstrate that “caring for children is difficult to reconcile with full-time employment for both parents”, Kohlrasch added. It then usually falls on mothers to make compromises in their working life.

In another sign of enduring gender inequalities, women in working couple relationships also continue to spend more time on household chores and care work than men.

READ ALSO: Who is affected by Germany’s proposal to reduce ‘Elterngeld’ eligibility?

According to another study by the Hans Böckler Foundation, around 62 percent of women feel responsible for completing household chores and keeping appointments, compared to just 20 percent of men.

When children live in the household alongside a working couple, the discrepancies are even greater, the study revealed.