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Men get better jobs and pay than equally qualified women, study finds

A new study claims to have uncovered widespread preferential treatment of men over women in Finnish working life. Researchers found that women were paid on average only 83 cents for every euro earned by an equally qualified man. Male workers were also found to progress more quickly into steady employment after graduating, with females more likely to be unemployed three years after finishing their studies.

Naisen palkka kasvaa hitaasti.
Image: Yle / Isto Janhunen

Men are more likely to get better jobs and a better salary than women who hold the same qualifications, a new study has found.

The report into working-life practices, by researchers at Jyväskylä University, concluded that women earn just 83 cents for every euro earned by a man.

Over 2,000 highly educated men and women from technical and business fields took part in the study, which identified significant differences in the way the different genders experience job searching, unemployment and integration into working life.

Researcher Päivi Vuorinen-Lampila said the study showed that men experienced preferential treatment in all measured areas of working life. The differences were apparent from the moment the subjects entered employment after graduating, she said.

Graduation head-start

”At the graduation stage men were more likely to have a job ready to go to. Women were also more likely than men to be unemployed three years after finishing their studies,” she said. “We also found that male workers had steadier employment, with more of them occupying permanent posts than women, who were more likely to hold temporary or part-time contracts.”

Women holding a master’s degree in business were more likely to be assistants or secretaries, while their male counterparts had managed to progress to middle or senior management, the study claims.

A number of women admitted to researchers that they had been told during interview that they would make a good secretary, but that such a role was not available at that moment.

Illegal questioning

Women also reported being asked about their plans for starting a family during the recruitment process, even though this is illegal. Women who did plan to have children were seen as more of an expensive risk by employers compared to men or single women, the study found.

Vuorinen-Lampila says that more equal sharing of parental leave between the sexes should be encouraged to address the gender inequalities caused by more women than men taking time off work for childcare.

Vuorinen-Lampila also said the results show a great deal of room for improvement in attitudes at work, with many instances of deep-held discriminatory ways of thinking, a number of which are unconscious.

Earnings imbalance

Meanwhile on Saturday Finland’s central congress of trades unions, the SAK, published figures claiming that 54 percent of its female members earn under 2,000 euros a month. Only 16 percent of its male members earn the same amount, the SAK said.

The organisation also said its figures show that among out of its membership, women are more likely to go on sick leave – and for longer periods - than their male counterparts.

The gender balance data is part of the SAK’s work-life barometer, which contains the results of a survey of 1,203 SAK members who were polled this spring.

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