Some progress on European targets for senior women as action plan is published

Construction Teams looking at papers on a table


The number of middle and senior managers in the European Commission who are women has increased to 36%, according to new figures.

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has set a target of at least 40% of its middle and senior managers being women by the end of his mandate in 2019. The number of women in senior and middle manager roles in 2014, when his mandate began, was 30%.

The Commission says progress is stronger at senior management level (Directors, Deputy Directors-General and Directors-General) where the share of women has increased to 35% from 27% on 1 November 2014. At middle management level (Heads of Unit), 37% of managers are women, compared to 31% when the Juncker Commission took office.

In order to achieve progress, the Commission has focus on efforts to identify, develop and support female talent, targeted training sessions and mentoring; specific management programmes and support for existing and new female networks; and setting individual targets for all Commission departments.

A Eurobarometer survey published this week shows nine in 10 Europeans consider that promoting gender equality is important for society, the economy and for them personally. Half of Europeans think there should be more women in political decision-making positions, with seven in 10 in favour of legal measures to ensure parity between men and women in politics. More than eight in 10 Europeans think a man should do an equal share of household chores, or taking parental leave to take care of his children. However, the majority think that women still spend more time on housework and caring activities than men. 90% of Europeans say that it is not acceptable for women to be paid less than men, and 64% are in favour of salary transparency as a way to empower change.

An Action plan to tackle the gender pay gap which stands at 16.3% and has not decreased in recent years aims to tackle the fact that women tend to be employed less, in less well-paid sectors, take fewer promotions, take more career breaks and do more unpaid work.

The plan calls for improving respect for the equal pay principle by assessing the possibility to amendment the Gender Equality directive; tackling the care penalty by urging the European Parliament and the Member States to adopt swiftly a work-life balance proposal published in April; and breaking the glass-ceiling by funding projects to improve the gender balance in companies at all management levels; and encouraging governments and social partners to adopt concrete measures to improve gender balance in decision-making.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, who is pushing for listed companies to publish their gender pay gaps and for stronger enforcement measures, said: “Women are still under-represented in decision-making positions in politics and the business world. They still earn 16% less than men on average across the EU. And violence against women is still widespread. This is unfair and unacceptable in today’s society. The gender pay gap must be closed, because the economic independence of women is their best protection against violence.”

The Commission is also facing renewed pressure to adopt a quota for women in the boardroom. Previous attempts have been blocked by some EU member states.



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