The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - October 18

Italy's working women earn about three quarters of what men earn on average, according to new statistics from ISFOL, the government-funded research institute. For salaried workers women the difference is about 23%, or 3,800 euros a year, while for the self-employed the difference can be as much as 40%, ISFOL said in a report on the Italian labour market.

Researchers stressed that cases where women and men earned different sums for the same work were rare. The difference is more to do with the type of position the two sexes generally occupy. "There is a tendency to avoid giving roles with more responsibility to women basically because employers are afraid that childcare duties will be a distraction," said Emiliano Mandrone. He said this was particularly common in the private sector, where bosses were concerned that women would either underperform or disappear for a year to have a baby. As a result, men tend to get the top jobs and the fat salaries that go with them.

The startling difference between the pay received by self-employed men and women was mainly the result of women working fewer hours, the report said, showing that maternity was a key problem for female employment in Italy, which at 45% is already the lowest in Europe. Three fifths of the women questioned by the survey said that before having a child they worked. After childbirth that number went down to half.

"This is partly for cultural reasons and partly because there aren't enough state-run nurseries," Mandrone said, suggesting that society was failing to recognise the importance of child-rearing to its future.