Source: Bloomberg Economics

Note: *National convergence assumes that 25-64 year old female labor-force participation and schooling will converge to that of male counterparts within each country by 2050. Graphic shows GDP relative to baseline of persistent inequality

Empowering women to participate fully in the modern economy would light a fire under global growth. Bloomberg Economics has estimated the boost to output if women’s education and employment levels converge with that of men in the same country. Achieving that ambitious goal could add about $20 trillion to world GDP in 2050 relative to a baseline scenario of persistent gender inequality.

In the third quarter of 2020, 14.3 million people aged 15 and over were employed in health occupations in the EU, representing over 7% of employed people and almost 4% of people aged 15 and over.

These health jobs include medical doctors (1.8 million), nurses, midwives and their associates (4.4 million, out of which 2.7 million are associates), personal care workers (3.9 million), other health professionals and associates (4.1 million). Over the past year, these workers were at the forefront of the COVID-19 response.


Health workers in the EU, Q3 2020


Looking at their age profile, health workers aged 35-49 and those 50 years or over were similarly represented, with both age groups accounting for over a third of people (36%) in these occupations.

In a majority (16 of 26) of the EU Member States with available data, the largest share of health workers was aged 35-49, with the highest share reported in Romania (47%), followed by Hungary and Czechia (both 43%).

In 9 EU Member States, people aged over 50 accounted for the largest share of health workers, whilst in only one EU Member State did health workers aged 15-34 represent the largest share: Luxembourg (43%).


Health workers by sex, Q3 2020


Spotlight on women at the frontline of COVID-19

In Q3 2020, the vast majority of the health workers in the EU were women (78%). Across the EU Member States, this share ranges from 61% in Greece to over 90% in Estonia and Latvia.


Health workers by sex, Q3 2020


For women in the EU, health occupations accounted for 12% of their total employment in Q3 2020, however, this share varied across countries as well as regions.

At the regional level, the highest shares were generally recorded in northern regions of the EU:

  • seven non-capital regions of Sweden: Upper Norrland (28% of total employment of women), Central Norrland (27%), Småland and islands and North-Central Sweden (both 25%), East-Central Sweden and West Sweden (both 21%), South Sweden (19%);
  • three regions in Denmark: North Jutland (22%), South Denmark (20%), Zealand (19%);
  • two regions in Finland: North and East Finland (24%) and South Finland (20%); as well as
  • Zeeland (20%) in the Netherlands.


Women in health occupations across regions, Q3 2020


Overall gender pay gap 2021The coronavirus crisis, while still ongoing, has already had a disproportionate impact on women’s careers, with real fears the pandemic has wiped out decades of progress towards gender equality.

Job losses among women have proved to be 1.8 times greater than among men as a result of Covid-19, according to McKinsey. While women make up 39% of global employment, by the summer they had accounted for 54% of overall job losses.

For those women still in work, the gender pay gap remains a persistent and troubling issue. Exclusive Marketing Week 2021 Career and Salary Survey data reveals the marketing profession has an overall mean gender pay gap for full-time workers of 23%, down slightly from 28% in 2020.

Now is our best chance to eradicate the gender pay gap

Still stubbornly high, this number exceeds the national gender pay gap. Statistics released by the Office of National Statistics in November show the median gender pay gap in 2020 for full-time employees was 7.4%, with a mean gender pay gap of 11.5%. The government defines the gender pay gap as the difference between men’s and women’s hourly earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings.

For marketing and sales directors (the most obviously comparable sector), the ONS median gender pay gap is 7.8%, with a mean gender pay gap of 10.4%, far lower than the level exposed by Marketing Week.

When looking at the pay gap cut by seniority, the 2021 Career and Salary Survey data shows the problem worsens the further women progress in their marketing careers. Given the theme of today’s International Women’s Day (8 March) is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’, the statistics make it difficult to read.

Female marketers only earn more than their male counterparts in the most junior role of marketing assistant (£27,500 vs £26,800). From then on female marketers are at a disadvantage at every rung of the ladder, climbing to an almost £10,000 pay gap at the marketing director/vice-president level (£97,500 vs £106,800).

Gender pay gap by sector 2021This issue is not limited to marketing. Gender equality charity The Fawcett Society calculated Equal PayDay 2020 (the day when women, on average, stop earning relative to men) as 20 November. The society has, however, raised questions about the veracity of the government data on which this figure was calculated, given the disruption caused by Covid-19.

WACL, the body for women in advertising and communications leadership, ran its own campaign pushing for the reinstatement of gender pay gap reporting, which was suspended last year due to the pandemic. Its petition to reinstate pay gap reporting and put pressure on companies to disclose their strategies to close the gender pay gap garnered more than 2,500 signatures.

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting was finally reinstated in February, but companies failing to meet the deadline of 4 April have been granted a six-month extension to gather their data. This is after the Equality and Human Rights Commission confirmed it would not begin enforcement until 4 October.

Change cannot come soon enough given the stark impact of Covid-19 on women’s careers and the prevalence of the gender pay gap in 2021. Couple with this the firm business case for prioritizing gender equality and more needs to be done.

McKinsey found one in four women in North America were thinking about reducing or leaving paid work due to the pandemic, citing their organization’s inflexibility, caring responsibilities, and stress. According to the data, 8% of mothers surveyed had considered going from full- to part-time work, versus just 2% of fathers.

The consultancy suggests that in a “gender-regressive scenario” – where no action is taken to redress the balance – global GDP growth could be $1tn lower in 2030 than if women’s unemployment simply tracked that of men in each sector. The consultancy points out this outcome could end up being worse if the global recovery is slower than expected, childcare burdens increase and public spending drops.

By comparison, McKinsey estimates that if society takes action now to advance gender equality, $13tn could be added to global GDP by 2030.