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Gender and career development — Hungary

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This comparative study examines the issue of gender and career development and explores the continuing barriers to achieving equality of opportunity in this area in Hungary.

Background and aims

Since the mid-1990s, there has been growing consensus in the EU about the importance of equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming was officially introduced through the European Employment Strategy (EES). Member states are required to actively take into account the objective of equality between men and women when formulating and implementing laws, regulations, administrative provisions, policies and activities relating to employment, promotion and vocational training, as well as working conditions. However, the European Commission’s Gender Equality Report 2005 shows that while gender gaps in employment are closing within the EU, sectoral and occupational segregation and the gender pay gap have remained almost unchanged. Recent EIRO reports on equal opportunities have investigated gender pay equity in Europe (2002) (TN0201101S), the adoption of gender equality plans at the workplace (2004) (TN0402101S) and gender mainstreaming in industrial relations (2005) (TN0410101S). This survey looks at the closely related topic of gender and careers.

The issues affecting gender differences in career choices and career patterns are many and complex. Sectoral and occupational segregation (both horizontal segregation – where women are excluded from senior positions and vertical segregation – where women are segregated into sex-stereotyped roles or functions) remain key problems. While research suggests that women now comprise equal numbers with men in many professions, such as law and medicine, and are very evident in junior to middle management, the top rungs of most professions and organisations remain heavily male dominated. Segregation also remains a problem in relation to apprenticeships and vocational training courses, as well as in relation to subjects studied by men and women at university.

In many organisations the traditional concept of a career with its hierarchical model of continuous service and regular promotion progress is gendered, making women’s careers, which are generally ‘broken’ or ‘interrupted’ in order to have or care for children, incompatible. Evidence suggests that even in those professions where women have been able to take advantage of career breaks and flexible working hours, they have still effectively been blocked from the most senior positions. Many women have adapted to the predominant male model of success, making conscious choices either not to have children, to defer having them, or (where able) to organise their domestic life so as to be able to dedicate themselves to their careers. Part time working is also a crucial factor in understanding how women’s careers differ from men’s. Part time work has been shown to be associated not only with less training (and therefore fewer opportunities for upward mobility) but also with lower pay and downward occupational mobility. Although legislation in many countries now provides for periods of longer maternity leave, research suggests that women who take longer maternity leave breaks or return to work part time after maternity leave are disadvantaged in terms of their career progression.

At EU level, gender equality is one of the most highly regulated areas of the labour market, yet in practice gender equality is still some way off for many countries. The study referred to above on gender equality plans at the workplace (2005), which provided a comprehensive overview of government regulation and policies regarding the equal treatment of men and women, suggested that one of the reasons for this might be the difficulties associated with translating EU legislation into actual practice in the work place and highlights both the importance and the difficulty of obtaining data on workplace practices of this kind.

The purpose of this study is to gather information on several key aspects of gender and careers. First we seek information on current sectoral and occupational distributions across the member countries. We are interested in both horizontal and vertical segregation, including information on the extent of upward mobility of women in organisations and whether the ‘glass ceiling’ effect is still evident.

Second we seek information on the qualifications held by men and women in employment. The Gender Perspectives Annual Update 2000 (TN0103201U) contains data from 1999 on the education level of the labour force and we would like to up-date this information and collect new data for the new EU countries. We also seek information on the amount of training provided by employers and the extent to which this differs depending upon part or full time employment.

Finally, and importantly, we also seek information on the views, opinions, policies and actions of the social partners on issues to do with gender and careers. It was noted above that one of the difficulties associated with improving equality in the workplace is translating EU legislation into actual practice. The data collected by the Gender Equality Work Plans study suggested that the Social Partners role was vital in this regard, but generally modest because of the strong emphasis on top-down legislation. They found that whilst most employers' organisations and trade unions at central level were in principle supportive of furthering measures that would secure greater gender equality many of these policies involved only declarations of principle and that more far-reaching or concrete policies were called for. In addition, one of the outcomes of the ‘Equal Opportunities and Collective Bargaining in the EU’ project carried out by the Foundation was that equal opportunities issues were very low on the collective bargaining agenda because not enough women participated in the negotiation process, suggesting that more work needed to be done in relation to improving the social partners own equal opportunities situation.

Questionnaire

1. Changing concepts of careers

Research suggests that current career patterns are still strongly influenced by traditional concepts of careers. Traditional concepts are often described as hierarchical models, with continuous service and regular promotion progress up through a series of levels within an organisation, or between organisations. However, new forms of employment are likely to lead to a greater diversification of career paths for both men and women.

a) Is the traditional career model appropriate to your country? How have women’s careers complied with this traditional model?

In Hungary, career model is organised mainly according to the traditional concept of promotion, prestige and success. It coincides with the concept of ‘male norm of employment’ described by some researchers in the field of gender and organisation studies. (See for example Wajcman, 1998, Acker 1998), which means that the career is mainly based on uninterrupted, full-time employment, with extremely high commitment to the job and tasks, with the job taking priority over family duties. Although women in the state-socialist period usually had a career break after child-birth, which was also acknowledged by their business environment, this pattern totally changed in the course of the transition process. This change in practice and mentality is almost independent of the size of the firm, and became rather typical in the case of businesswomen. However, the differences between sectors in this respect remained significant. It means that it is mainly women in the competitive sectors, who follow this traditional model, whereas women in public administration insert some breaks into their career.

Full-time employment is characteristic to Hungarian working population, as will be described later; consequently it is only an exception that women work part-time. (It is despite the fact that Hungary has a very low employment level.) Career women rarely have the opportunity to work part-time, and these few cases could be seen more as a privilege based on meritocracy than a mommy track, i.e. talented women, who already proved their ability and loyalty, may receive the opportunity.

b) Please provide research evidence on whether the traditional concept of a career in your country is changing or whether it remains largely entrenched. Are traditional careers changing as new forms of employment are introduced? If there have been recent changes, what types of change are occurring?

The traditional concept of career has changed only in a limited way, and non-traditional careers are only exceptional. It might be connected to the fact that new forms of employment emerge only relatively rarely, especially if we compare Hungary with the EU15 countries. It means that flexibility is missing from the labour market in general and from management particularly. There is a lack of flexible arrangement of working time and working place. Telework as a new concept started to develop in the last three years, and access to Internet improved, still the mentality has not changed significantly, presence at the workplace is still required. It is particularly true for managers who have to supervise and control the work and presence of staff members on the spot.

There are only some exceptional cases, which were reported in business magazines, of a woman manager starting to work part-time in order to spend more time with her children. Working part-time as a manager is very exceptional in Hungary. The reproductive task can legitimate this option if the employer agrees on that.

Another change might be the changing roles within families. Research carried out within multinational companies showed that many women were promoted dynamically into managerial positions, whereas their partners had less career options. In these cases men took over most of the family and home making duties, e.g. fathers took the parental leave, while women were able to climb the corporate ladder. However, we have to emphasise that these are very exceptional cases.

2. Data on segregation and mobility

a) Please provide details of employment for men and women by industrial sector and full and part time work for 2005 and also for men and women by socio-economic classification 2005.

The industrial gender segregation is significant in Hungary as it can be seen in the following table. Men are mostly concentrated in agriculture and industry, while women are employed in services, mainly in education, health and social work.

Table 1. Number of employed by industries and sex, 2005 (in thousands)

Industries

Males

Females

All

A,B Agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing

145,4

48,6

194,0

C Mining and quarrying

12,6

2,3

14,9

D Manufacturing

530,7

338,7

869,4

E Electricity, gas and water supply

47,9

16,7

64,6

F Construction

293,9

21,2

315,1

G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor-vehicles, motorcycles and personal and household goods

267,2

318,7

585,9

H Hotels and restaurants

70,8

83,5

154,3

I Transport, storage and communication

212,5

72,9

285,4

J Financial intermediation

26,6

53,7

80,3

K Real estate, renting and business activities

152,8

123,0

275,8

L Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

146,3

151,6

297,9

M Education

72,7

250,7

323,4

N Health and social work

58,4

204,3

262,7

O-Q Other community, social, personal and other service activities

78,3

99,5

177,8

Total employed

2 116,1

1 785,4

3 901,5

Industry (C+D+E+F)

885,1

378,9

1 264,0

Services (G–Q)

1 085,6

1 357,9

2 443,5

Source: Labour Force Survey, HCSO

The tendency of segregation has been discussed at academic forums. There is some evidence that a slight decrease in segregation has occurred over the last twenty years and, according to calculation based on the four-digit occupation categories of the National Occupations Classification, we could observe a significant decline particularly in the last ten years. (See Table 2.) However, we cannot assume that these tendencies will go into the same direction, because large structural changes came to an end.

Table 2. Indices of employment segregation between women and men (1983 – 2001, %)

Year

Employed

Employed below 35 years of age

1983

64.4

69.8

1992

64.5

70.1

1996

62.3

64.5

2001

59.5

59.4

Source: Bukodi, 2006: 26

Full-time and part-time work in 2005

In 2003 the rate of part-time employment was 4.4%, which has not increased since then. The part-timers are mainly people on pension or having young children who are willing to take up part-time employment. This attitude is not obvious in the case of unemployed people, who mostly want to work full time (men: 55.7%, women: 40.4%), and part-time job will be accepted by them if full-time job is not available (men: 30.9%, women: 41%). (Source: Labour Force Survey, HCSO)

There have been several initiatives to promote part-time employment. To promote the return of young parents and caregivers to the labour market, the government decided to reduce non-wage costs. (Although the wording of the regulation is gender neutral, almost exclusively women are affected, who are in the above-mentioned situation.) As a result of this payment obligations of employers dropped in 2004. The flat-rate part of health care contribution is eliminated if employers employ women on a part-time basis who receive child-care allowance or child raising benefit or caregivers’ fee. A new employment subsidy (reimbursement of wages and contributions) also promotes the part-time employment of parents with children under the age of 14 and beneficiaries of the caregiver’s allowance.

Men and women by socio-economic classification 2005

The socio-economic classification points to widespread and deep segregation: 69% of men work in manual jobs, as opposed to 44% of women. In the recent period significance of the service sector grew, whereas that of the industry and agriculture decreased.

However, even non-manual occupational groups are gendered extensively. Using the statistical categories, women make up only 35.2% of the group ‘legislators, senior officials and managers’, whereas 93.5% of clerks, the lowest prestige category within the non-manual categories, are women. The vertical segregation is obvious from the data of the first four categories in the table below.

Based on the category of ‘legislators, senior officials and managers’, and compared with the total number of non-manual workers, we see that 31.9% of men and 10.9% of women work in some kind of managerial position. Thus, men’s chances of getting into management jobs are three times higher than those of women.

Table 3. Employment by occupational group and sex (thousands, 4th quarter 2005)

Occupational group

Women

(1000 people)

Men

(1000 people)

Share of women

(%)

Share of men

(%)

1. Legislators, senior officials and managers

108,5

199,8

35.2

64.8

2. Professionals

290,3

212,4

57.7

42.3

3. Technicians and associate professionals

371,4

198,5

65.2

34.8

4. Clerks

224,1

15,7

93.5

6.5

Total non-manual workers

994,3

626,4

61.4

38.6

Table 3. Employment by occupational group and sex (thousands, 4th quarter 2005)

5. Service workers and shop and market sales workers

356,4

278,0

56.2

43.8

6. Skilled agricultural and forestry workers

27,7

78,1

26.2

73.8

7. Craft and related workers

108,4

644,3

14.4

85.6

8. Plant and machine operators and assemblers

124,4

335,0

27.1

72.9

9. Elementary occupations

169,9

129,9

56.7

43.3

Total manual workers

.

786,8

1 465,3

34.9

65.1

10. Armed forces

.

8,2

35,4

18.8

71.2

Grand total employed persons

1 789,3

2 127,1

45.7

54.3

Source: Labour Force Survey, HCSO

b) Please provide details of any survey evidence which shows the percentage of women in management and senior management positions (including the number of women who are Board Directors) by industrial sector.

Gender issues are not in the focus in Hungary, therefore only a small amount of research and analyses focus on the topic. Table 4. is based on Social Mobility Surveys (1983, 1992 and 1999) and on Time-Budget Survey (2002). The first two rows refer to managerial categories. The proportion of those working in managerial positions has been increasing significantly for the last twenty years. It is particularly true for women getting into lower managerial positions. It is also noteworthy that women’s presence in high-level managerial positions has increased; however, other investigations on the Top50 companies in Hungary clearly show that there is a ‘glass ceiling’ between middle and high level managerial positions. It is particularly true for the top positions, i.e. CEO, president, etc. Unfortunately, no data are available on the distribution across industries.

Table 4. Distribution of employed women and men by occupational classes, (1983-2002, %)

Occupational classes

Women

Men

 

1983

1992

1999

2002

1983

1992

1999

2002

High-level manager, senior professional, official

5.3

5.4

9.0

9.2

9.7

10.4

11.2

11.6

Lower-level manager, lower-level professional, official

16.2

23.0

24.5

26.8

8.8

10.4

11.9

11.5

Non-manual routine

19.0

19.2

16.6

14.2

2.4

1.8

2.3

2.6

Routine-services

6.7

8.3

11.6

12.1

1.8

2.7

3.8

3.9

Non-agricultural entrepreneur

1.5

3.7

6.6

5.4

2.3

6.4

11.7

10.3

Agricultural entrepreneur

0.2

0.5

0.8

0.7

1.2

1.6

2.7

2.1

Skilled manual

12.1

12.4

11.3

9.9

37.5

36.6

31.8

31.9

Unskilled manual

29.3

23.1

18.0

21.0

27.3

23.4

20.6

22.7

Agricultural worker

9.7

4.4

1.6

0.9

9.0

6.7

4.0

3.4

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: Bukodi, 2006: 25

We can use data from the European database to demonstrate the ratio of women in the highest decision-making bodies. Unfortunately there is no Hungarian database by industrial sector to investigate the gender differences. The statistics show that women’s presence in the highest managerial level is 11% in Hungary (i.e. president and member of the highest decision-making body within the top50 companies). It roughly coincides with the European average. If we look at the presidents of these companies separately, the rate is only 5%. The rate of CEOs is also merely 5%, and we cannot find any women in the decision making body of the Central Bank. (Source: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/women_men_stats/out/measures_out438_en.htm)

3. Data on training and qualifications

a) In the Gender Perspectives Annual Review 2000, data was collected on the education levels of men and women across the member states. For member states that were covered in the 2000 annual review, we would like to update these figures. For new member states we would like to collect equivalent figures. Please refer to the 2000 annual review for more details (www.eiro.eurofound.europa.eu/2001/03/update/tn0103201u.html).

Proportion of labour force with a university-level education

Hungarian higher education has a two-tier system, i.e. both colleges and universities offer degrees. Studying at university takes longer and results in higher prestige degrees, which usually guarantee better labour market positions.

On the average an increasing part of the working population (21.2%) holds a degree. This rate among employed women is even higher, 24.5% of them hold a degree compared to 18.3% of employed men. However, the distribution between universities and colleges is disadvantageous for women who are over-represented at colleges. Even the distribution within those with college degree is unfavourable, because women are overwhelmingly trained in occupations qualifying to care and educational activity.

Proportion of labour force having completed secondary education only

The rate of those having completed secondary education is seemingly more balanced; i.e. 60-69% of the working population has such educational attainment. Gender differences are also characteristic in this case, because men studied mostly at vocational and apprentice schools (41.1%), whereas women more often received a G.C.E, (40.4%). The latter one, however, ensures very poor job opportunities presently.

Table 5. Number of employed by educational attainment and sex (thousands, 4th quarter 2005)
 

Men

Women

All

Less than 8 grades of primary (general) school

0.4

0.2

0.3

Primary (general) school

12.3

14.7

13.4

of which: with qualification

0.1

0.1

0.1

Vocational school and apprentice school

41.1

20.5

31.7

Secondary school with G.C.E.

27.8

.

40.0

.

33.4

of which: with qualification

22.3

27.7

24.7

College

9.6

16.1

12.6

University

8.7

8.4

8.6

.

100.0

100.0

.

100.0

Source: Labour Force Survey, HCSO

b) Please provide information on the amount and duration of training provided by employers for men and women employees in 2005, by part time and full time work.

No data available

4. The social partners and gender and careers

a) What are the views and opinions of the social partners in your country with regard to:

i) gender segregation;

ii) training and qualifications to promote equal career opportunities amongst men and women;

iii) tackling gender discrimination in careers; and

iv) encouraging the adoption of policies on gender and careers at company level?

At national level, women’s sections of trade union confederations (commissions, task-forces, etc.) are rather active. For example, the Women’s Commission (Női Választmány) of the National Association of Hungarian Trade Unions (Magyar Szakszervezetek Országos Szövetsége, MSZOSZ) regularly publishes its statements of standpoints and engages in lobbying at the Parliament. So far it has been the only social partner organisation represented in the Council for Equality between Women and Men (Nők és Férfiak Társadalmi Egyenlősége Tanács), a high-level advisory body established by the government. According to the Women’s Commission of MSZOSZ there are only a few top managers at companies; this problem is attributable to the law low level of awareness of equal carrier opportunities in society in general and among policy makers in particular. However, gender mainstreaming in carrier development is not a highlighted issue for such trade union bodies either.

The National Interest Reconciliation Council (Országos Érdekegyeztető Tanács, OÉT), was restructured in 2002, when the Equal Opportunity Commission (Esélyegyenlőségi Bizottság) was established also. Several representatives of trade unions and employers’ organisations have taken part in the work of the Commission. So far the Committee has held three meetings; carrier development has not yet appeared on the agenda.

At company level, Gender Equality Plans have been compulsory at state-owned companies, and in local and public administration since 2004. Unfortunately, the content and implementation of the plans have not been analysed so far. At private companies there are some initiatives to help women in the organisational life directly. Such an early initiative was the General Electric Women’s Network. Procter&Gamble also has a corporate programme for the reconciliation of work and private life, and a project to recruit young women into IT jobs. The GE Network has worked for many years in order to promote women’s career chances and to increase women’s visibility in upper management. (HU0310103S)

b) What policies have the social partners developed to promote career opportunities for women within their own organisations (internal)?

There are no definite policies for internal carrier development. Even in industries with female majority in the workforce, the top union leaders are usually men. According to the Women’s Commission of MSZOSZ, there are very few women even among deputies and candidates for top union officials, and expert positions at trade union federations, which would be a recruitment base for top officials, are very low prestige jobs for professionals.

c) What policies have the social partners, either individually or jointly developed to promote career opportunities for women in other organisations (external), with regard to:

i) gender segregation;

ii) training and qualifications to promote equal career opportunities amongst men and women;

iii) tackling gender discrimination in careers; and

iv) encouraging the adoption of policies on gender and careers at company level (for example, EQUAL)?

d) Are there any other examples of social partner activities directed at improving career opportunities for women, generally or specifically (for example, EQUAL)?

Social partners are involved the preparation of the National Development Plan and its operational programmes, like the Human Resources Development Operational Programme. (HU0306103F) According to the Women’s Commission of MSZOSZ, however, very few components of the programme are devoted to equal opportunity issues, and none of them was particularly targeted to carrier development issues.

As far as the EQUAL programme of the EU is concerned, out of the 44 projects won by Hungarian bidders, five are devoted to the Thematic field 4H: ‘Equal opportunities - Reducing gender gaps and desegregation’. Among these projects the ‘Equal pay for equal work! e-WageBarometer’ project is noteworthy. This project is based on the adaptation and further development of the Dutch “Wage indicator” (Loonwijzer). As it is expected, systematic analysis, research, reports and articles – supported by the database to be developed – would promote the long term target of equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming.

5. National Centre view

Please provide a commentary on key developments in gender and careers in your country. In particular please give your assessment of the impact of legislation on promoting gender equality in careers and outline the biggest barriers to promoting gender equality in careers.

On the level of political declarations and legal framework, seemingly there are no obstacles to female careers. Hungary has got the Act on Equal Opportunity and Equal Treatment since 2003, but in practice we can hardly find company programmes to promote gender balance. As is shown above, the rate of degree holders among working women is relatively high and is increasing even further, but it is not sufficient to combat the obstacles, e.g. occupational segregation.

Still the biggest barrier is the mentality and the traditional views on gender roles. Various studies carried out in the last 15 years pointed to the persistent dichotomy of gender roles. Despite the prevailing dual-breadwinner family model, even in international comparison, the Hungarian adult population still nurtures traditional values: caring women and earning men. Besides, Hungarian women spend the longest hours on household tasks in European comparison, and men do only a symbolic part of the housework, even if their spouses have higher status in the labour market. Women’s chances for career development today is more or less equal with that of men until childbirth, and many women are found in middle managerial positions. However, we cannot say that the unbalanced ratio in higher ranks is due only to reproductive tasks. Discrimination and doubts about the competence of female managers still play an important role in women’s under-representation.

Social partner organisations have minor role in career development, trade unions often consider it a prerogative of human resource management, and accept that career plans are predominantly formed on individual basis. Even if Hungarian collective agreements include wage tariff systems, they rarely result in individual career paths as a consequence of job ladders defined in terms of tariff wages. The prevailing individual approach is partly due to the composition of union membership too; mostly junior managers and professionals are provided with career development plans by the HR departments of the companies, exactly those strata of the labour force which are less unionised.

Beáta Nagy, Institute of Political Science of Hungarian Academy of Science

References:

Acker, Joan (1998) The Future of ’Gender and Organizations’: Connections and Boundaries. Gender, Work and Organization, 5(4), 195−206.

Bukodi, Erzsébet (2006) Women’s Labour Market Participation and Use of Working Time In: Nagy I.–Pongrácz T.–Tóth I. Gy. (eds.) Changing Roles. Report on the Situation of Women and Men in Hungary 2005. TÁRKI.

Wajcman, Judy (1998) Sex Equality in Organizations. In: Managing like a Man. Cambridge, Polity Press, 10-30.

Beata Nagy, Institute of Political Science of Hungarian Academy of Science

Page last updated: 20 April, 2007
About this document
  • ID: HU0612019Q
  • Author: Beáta Nagy
  • Institution: Institute of Political Science of Hungarian Academy of Science
  • Country: Hungary
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 18-05-2007