EWCS 2005 - Gender

Working conditions in the European Union: The gender perspective

Always a key priority of the EU, gender equality in the workplace has attracted increased attention in recent years. However, despite advances in women’s employment over the last decade, Europe’s labour markets and workplaces remain largely unequal.

Published in December 2007, as the European Year on Equal Opportunities drew to a close, the report based on secondary analysis of the fourth European Working Conditions Survey (2005) analyses the gendered division of labour from the perspectives of both working life and home. It provides insights into the similarities and differences between men’s and women’s working environments in the 27 EU Member States.

Key research findings

  • Women have less autonomy at work, are more likely to work shifts and are paid less.
  • Men work longer hours, are exposed to more physical risks and are more likely to be contacted about work outside working hours.
  • three key factors contribute to the unequal position of women in the workplace:
    • the poor quality of part-time work
    • the low pay and low status of female-dominated jobs
    • the under representation of women in managerial positions.


To foster greater gender equality and a better work–life balance, the report recommends:

  • creating strategies to encourage men to take parental leave
  • reducing long full-time working hours
  • finding ways to support workers with childcare and eldercare responsibilities
  • monitoring the gender impact of rapid changes in the new Member States in order to avoid the risk of wider gender inequality.