European & International News

Women in service sector still at a disadvantage

[European Parliament, Brussels, 12 September 2012] Women’s rights committee members urge the Council to break the deadlock with regard to the adoption of the amendment to the pregnant workers directive by accepting the flexibility proposed by Parliament, in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. They underline the importance of protecting motherhood and fatherhood by combating dismissal from employment during and after pregnancy.

They also warn against salary cuts during maternity leave and downgrading of job status or remuneration upon return to work. MEPs stress the importance of combating stereotypes and gender-based discrimination by adopting active policies. These could reduce the real disadvantages affecting women in the service sector, where an assumption persists that there are male and female jobs. According to the ILO, almost half of women in employment are concentrated in only 10 of the 130 occupations.

The glass ceiling which prevents women from attaining positions of high responsibility still persists. In the service sector women in managerial positions tend to work mainly in sectors such as retail distribution and hotels. However they are making headway in less traditional sectors, for example insurance and banking. In large organisations women usually reach senior management positions only in less important areas of the company.

MEPs propose to further deepen the market for services in order to develop its significant jobs potential. Nine out of ten jobs are currently created in the service sector. However, the gender divide in this area is strong. The service sector where most of the female workforce is employed experiences one of the highest differences in pay between men and women for the same work.

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

Link to the Report on women’s working conditions in the service sector:

Text adopted (11.09.2012) will be available here

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