Positive attitude towards increase in employment of women

Within the framework of the National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men 2005–2009, the Women’s Issues Information Centre carried out an extended survey in 2009 examining the changes in the situation of women and men in all areas of life. The survey focused on changes in attitudes towards women’s labour market participation since 1994. The findings show a dramatic increase in the number of people recognising an equal right to work for women and men.

About the survey

In 2009, the Women’s Issues Information Centre (Moterų informacijos centras, MIC), on request of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania (Socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija, SADM), carried out a survey with the aim of assessing changes in the situation of women and men in various areas of life, including labour market participation. In addition, the survey examined society’s attitudes towards working women and men, and the findings were compared with data of similar surveys conducted in 1994 and 2000.


The survey of a representative sample of the population was carried out by Baltic Surveys (Baltijos tyrimai) between April and May 2009. The survey used a multistage random sampling. In total, some 1,019 permanent Lithuanian residents were directly interviewed in answering the survey questionnaire. The respondents comprised 508 women and 511 men aged between 15 and 74 years.

Main findings of survey

Occupational distribution by gender

In terms of gender, the 2009 survey revealed minor changes in the distribution of people by occupational type and group in Lithuania over the past 15 years: men were more prevalent among blue-collar workers, technical staff and agricultural workers, while women were more often found among professionals and white-collar workers, as well as among persons working in the home and those on childcare leave (Table 1). Likewise, significantly more women were employed in the public sector compared with men – that is, 47% of women and 26% of men in 2009.

Table 1: Occupational distribution, by gender, 1994, 2000 and 2009 (%)
  1994 2000 2009
Women Men Women Men Women Men
Blue-collar workers, technical staff, agricultural workers 18 36 18 34 16 31
Professionals, white-collar workers 27 20 15 10 26 16
Business executives and company owners 2 5 3 5 5 7
Retired people 27 15 32 17 22 20
Students 8 9 10 11 16 17
Persons working in the home and those on childcare leave 13 0.2 10 - 8 -
Unemployed 5 11 11 22 8 9

Source: MIC, 2009

Main sources of income

The survey revealed that female and male respondents had relatively similar sources of income. Wages were the main source of income for both women and men, as stated by 67% of men and 68% of women in 2009. The proportion of men gaining an income from self-employment was slightly higher than that of women – 16% of men compared with 9% of women (see Figure). Nonetheless, comparing the findings in 2009 with those of earlier years leads to the conclusion that the structure of income sources of Lithuanian people has basically remained unchanged since 1994.

Main sources of income, by gender (%)

Main sources of income, by gender (%)

It is important to note that, despite wages being the main source of income for an equal proportion of men and women, more women than men live in families with a lower income per family member (Table 2). Therefore, it is assumed that women are often paid lower wages than men. According to Statistics Lithuania (Statistikos departamentas, STD), average gross monthly wages of women in 2008 were on average 20% lower than those of men.

Table 2: Income distribution, by family member (%)
Monthly net income per family member Women Men
LTL 600 and less 20 15
LTL 601–800 20 17
LTL 801–1,000 16 18
LTL 1,001 and more 19 23
Not indicated 25 27

Note: €1 = LTL 3.46 as at 22 December 2009.

Source: MIC, 2009

Equal right to work for women and men

The survey findings also reveal that an increasing proportion of Lithuanian people recognise an equal right to work for men and women at a time when jobs are scarce. If in 1994 a great majority of men (72%) and more than half of the women surveyed (54%) agreed that men have priority when it comes to the right to work, in 2000 this provision was supported by 60% of men and only 30% of women. These proportions declined further in 2009, with 52% of men and as few as 16% of women acknowledging that men have priority in terms of the right to work.

According to the survey findings in 2009, most supporters of working women were in two different age groups of people, notably in the 20–29 and 50–59 age groups. Furthermore, the findings revealed the trend that the higher educated a person was, the less the person supported women-discriminating provisions. The idea that men should be given job priority over women when jobs are scarce was supported by as few as 7% of female university graduates and 37% of male university graduates. The share of affirmative answers to this question among people with incomplete secondary education and lower educational levels accounted for 25% and 56%, respectively.

The 2009 survey revealed a relatively significant increase in the importance of work to women over the past 15 years. In 1994, 40% of women identified work as a very important part of their life, while in 2009 this proportion reached 49%. Moreover, according to the 2009 survey findings, 53% of women and 78% of men would prefer doing a job they like, even if they did not have to for earning their living. About 20% of Lithuanian women and 25% of Lithuanian men would give everything for an opportunity to make a professional career.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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