In the most recent issue of Newsweek International Edition, there is an interesting article about gender equality here in Europe. That European women can have a job, but not a career. In the United States, women account for 45% of high-level decision makers, here in Italy, 18% hold power-jobs. Just a LITTLE difference. Why such a big difference you ask? Europe is “killing” its women with kindness, in luxurious welfare policies that were created to help them. Women are offered LONG maternity leaves, then pushing them to take the full amount with tax policies that discourage a second income, along with subsidies that serve to keep them at home. Few European corporations offer flextime that makes it easier for a woman to work AND take care of their family. So some women end up working part-time, which is less respected and poorly paid in a continent with laws favoring employers when it comes to discrimination. An example, when my sister-in-law had her daughter a little over a year ago, she took a ten month maternity leave, when she went back to work she wanted to go part-time, but was told no since if the company let her go part-time, they’d have to let all the other women also go from full-time to part-time if they wished. What a crock.
European women are less likely to fight back when discriminated against, since Europe doesn’t allow class-action suits, and outside of the public sector, the burden of proof in a discrimination case falls on the individual, not the corporation, making it very difficult for a single person to initiate and win a case.
The system does not help women break out of this no-win situation. Most European countries base their tax structure around the idea of a single breadwinner, which makes it often in favor if the mother doesn’t work and takes care of the family.
So basically here in Europe is still a MALE dominated society, where the woman is meant to stay at home and take care of the family and the husband brings home the bacon. Maybe fifty years ago this may have been acceptable, that women strove to be like Joan Clever. But not now. Things need to change. With the number of people retiring increasing, and jobs needing to be filled, immigrants cannot be expected to fill all of those jobs. Women need to be given equal opportunities as men, European countries need to exploit so to speak their natural resources and job pool. Some Americans see/view Europe as the Old/Mother World. An Old World that is stuck in an Old World mentality.