The disparity between genders is one of the leading obstacles to gender equality worldwide and this bias towards women is particularly true in the workplace. While it is improving in many locations, there are still miles to go before we see true gender pay equality. Although the gap still exists in Spain, the country has shown significant progress in workplace equality. 

The gender pay gap in Spain stands at 9.4% as of 2020. This figure is a significant change considering that Spain was sitting at a 20% pay gap between men and women just a decade ago. While this is a significant step in the right direction, there is still room for improvement. 

Unfortunately, gender pay gaps still exist worldwide, despite the world’s attention to the prevalence of inequality in modern culture.

What the Gender Pay Gap in Spain Is Now

YearGender Pay Gap
2022 (current)8.6%

Currently, the gender pay gap is sitting at 8.6%, and officials look to continue to find ways to close this gap even further. One of the most significant parts of the gender pay gap in Spain is that the country continues to close the gap. Each year, as reports of the pay gap come out, Spain consistently shrinks that gap, even if it is a small amount. 

There is still room for improvement when looking at the gender pay gap in Spain compared to other countries. Countries like Romania, Bulgaria, and Columbia have lowered their wage gap to the lowest the world has ever seen. This trend shows that not only is it possible to get that number even smaller, but it is also likely if countries follow their examples. 

How the Gender Pay Gap Has Changed Over the Last 10+ Years

In Spain, the gender pay gap has continued to improve, especially over the last decade. Going from a 20% pay gap in 2010 to about half that in 2020 is a significant change brought on by significant policy changes and the push for gender equality. 

Why the Gender Pay Gap Has Significantly Changed in Spain 

The growing awareness of the disparities in earnings according to gender continues to grow worldwide, and no less so in Spain. The Spanish government has also implemented several policies that paved the way for gender pay gap changes, including the following.

Earlier School Enrollment

The school system has allowed women to return to work faster by starting school enrollment earlier. This change has significantly impacted mothers over the last two decades, encouraging them to return to work sooner as their children are in school.

preschool children
Public education starts at three years old in Spain

Spain introduced education systems for preschoolers from the age of three, with corresponding government financial aid systems. This system encouraged mothers to enter the workplace sooner, as their children had supervision and care. 

Flexible Working Hours for Parents

In 1999, the government passed a law called Law 39/99, allowing parents of young children to reduce their work hours with corresponding pay reductions. This law is especially significant for women who traditionally leave their careers to become full-time caregivers.

The parents could also choose the time slot they wished to work, and the government protected the workers from any dismissal relating to maternity, pregnancy, and paternity leave. 

Once this law passed, it allowed more women to stay in their chosen field while limiting their hours rather than quitting altogether. 

Cash Benefits for Working Mothers

Another essential part of changing the gender pay gap happened in 2003 when lawmakers in Spain granted working mothers a cash benefit. During this time, mothers with children under three years of age received a cash bonus each month for each child. This incentive encourages mothers to remain in the workforce, leading to a 5% increase in the employment rate of women. 

Working mothers with young children receive cash benefits every moth

Each of these factors did a lot to bring and keep women in the workforce even while raising children, and it is clear the impact it has had. As of 2019, 61% of women ages 20 to 64 are employed, compared to 71% of men. Encouraging women to continue working throughout motherhood has only positively impacted the gender pay gap over the last decade. 

Gender Pay Gap in the Private and Public Sector

There is a significant difference in the gender pay gap in the private sector compared to the public sector. This trend remains true even today, though the numbers are improving. The gender pay gap in Spain is about 13% in the public sector, which are companies owned and run by the government. 

This number drastically increases for companies run privately or in the private sector. The gender pay gap in the private sector in Spain is about 19%. So, there is still a lot of work to be done to help companies in the private sector enforce gender equality when it comes to pay, especially at executive levels, where companies often use executive search firms to find talented females for these high-level positions.

Unsurprisingly, there are inconsistencies in the gender wage gap in the private sector, given that individuals, rather than the government, run these companies. There is still room for improvement for both sectors, but the main focus should be on the private sector as it has such a significant gap. 

Not only is the gender wage gap significant here, but it is also worth noting that the wage distribution between the private and public sectors is also notable. So, it’s not just women being paid differently across the two industries. Men also face challenges in wages for private sector companies.

Gender Pay Gap in Different Industries

One of the most significant parts of the gender pay gap is that women are overrepresented in lower-tier jobs while men dominate senior positions. This factor spans many industries and countries, but it is worth noting that without the chance of an equal salary, women will continue to face issues of gender equality. 

Low Wage Jobs in SpainWho Dominates Them
Hospitality WorkersWomen

Globally, women lead only about 19% of firms. So, no matter the industry, it is still difficult for women to reach the top earnings in a company. Many industries with more women than men experience lower pay than other industries. 

woman working on reception desk
Women are still dominating the lowest-paid industries such as hospitality

This disparity is particularly evident in the childcare, healthcare, food, and service industries. Not only do women rule these industries globally, but they are some of the lowest-paid worldwide. 

Wages in women-run industries being lower paid raises an essential question of how people view women’s work globally. The food and service industry is vital for keeping people fed and healthy, yet workers receive low compensation. 

The same goes for healthcare and childcare. Fixing the gender pay gap would also require acknowledging the importance of women-dominated industries and their corresponding worth in remuneration.

Not only is the position important for this discussion, but also age. The gender pay gap is even more significant for older men and women. This trend means that older men make more money than senior women in the same positions. 

How the Future Looks When It Comes to the Gender Pay Gap in Spain

Looking at current and past gender pay gaps in Spain, it is difficult not to be hopeful. Wage disparities have continued to improve over the last decade, especially over the last few years.

Above, we talked about some ways that laws have changed the ability for women to get out into the workforce more, even when starting families. And that is something lawmakers must continue striving for, even with the small gap. Allowing Spanish mothers to return to work sooner than expected can only continue to help the wage gap. 

The consistent awareness that women tend to make less than men for the same jobs can significantly affect mental health. Overall, this can impact the level of work that women provide. Some may use it to justify the wage gap as well.

These factors can hinder women from getting the same opportunities as men, preventing the wage gap from being a thing of the past.

Final Thoughts

As gender equality in the workplace takes center stage, the world will continue to strive to eliminate gender bias on the road to equality in pay. Spain has shown that it will not fall behind in this global movement. 

The gender wage gap in Spain has continued to improve, especially over the last few years. One of the essential parts of this comes down to laws and practices implemented to improve women’s chances of returning to the workplace after childbirth and ensure that women-dominated industries receive fair compensation.

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