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Women in Iceland Earn Less than Men

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Women in Iceland Earn Less than Men

Demonstration

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Women in Iceland earn less than men. According to Ólafía B. Rafnsdóttir, head of the VR labor union in Reykjavík, a new salary analysis done by VR reveals a 14.2 percent wage difference between its male and female members, based on total earnings. Gender-based difference in pay, that is, difference that can only be explained by the wage-earner’s gender, is ten percent, and has remained around that level since 2009.

In an interview on RÚV radio, Ólafía stated that one way of illustrating the wage gap is to say that if women and men were paid equally for their work, then women worked without pay the first 36 days of the year.

Men in the VR union are more likely than women to receive benefits such as paid phone bills, smart phones and support for fitness programs, since 87 percent of men receive such benefits, but 74 percent of women. Ólafía pointed out that in a boom, the gender-based wage difference typically increases, while during a bust, it decreases. “We notice especially that men are likelier than women to receive extra pay in a boom, but when there is a downward trend [in the economy], then that extra cost is cut first in order to save.”

Ólafía called the situation unacceptable and stated that progress is being made too slowly. She added, “But let’s not forget that we have made progress on many levels and succeeded in narrowing that gap by 30 percent in the past 15 years.”

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