Gender Wage Gap In Iceland Difficult To Measure - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Gender Wage Gap In Iceland Difficult To Measure

Published October 25, 2018

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
James Cridland/Creative Commons

The gender wage gap in Iceland, when numerous extenuating elements are factored in, has decreased between 2008 and 2016, Kjarninn reports, having gone from 6.6% in 2008 to 4.5% today. This is a considerably smaller number than what has been reported in recent days.

Yesterday, many women in Iceland left work early to take part in the Women’s Day Off, an annual event held since 1975 that protests the gender wage gap, amongst other forms of discrimination that women face. On this year, organisers cited Statistics Iceland in contending that the gender wage gap is 26%.

As Statistics Iceland points out, measuring the gender wage gap is complicated. To measure it, surveyors face the challenging task of factoring in only those elements that can be attributed to differences in gender alone, which is often hard to quantify. At the same time, there may also be a shortage of data from one particular company or another, making the amount of readily available salary data limited.

For this reason, Statistics Iceland measures two types of gender wage gap: explained and unexplained. The explained gender wage gap is the difference in salaries between men and women doing the same work that can be attributed to measurable factors; the unexplained gender wage gap cannot be attributed to measurable factors. Better access to better data and greater transparency has made measuring the gender wage gap more exact, but the task still remains a challenging one.

All this said, yesterday’s Women’s Day Off was not solely about the gender wage gap, whatever its actual size. Organisers emphasised that workplace sexual harassment, domestic violence and the vulnerability of foreign women are all issues that need to be confronted and improved in Iceland as well.


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