At first sight, the signal is encouraging. In August, the unemployment rate of women stood at 8.5 %, compared with 9.3 % a year earlier, according to figures released, Monday, 1 October, by Eurostat. On average, it is a little higher than that of men (7.8 per cent). But this is not true everywhere : in twelve of the twenty-eight member countries of the european Union (EU), the female unemployment rate is now lower than that of men. This is particularly the case in France (9.1% against 9.5 per cent), Germany (2.9% vs. 3.8 %) and Belgium (6.4 % versus 6.6 %).
This table contrasts with the trend observed before the crisis : in france, female unemployment was higher for decades. This was reversed in 2013, as with many of our neighbors. “It is still too early to know if it will last,” notes Margaret Maruani, sociologist at the national Centre of scientific research. Because this evolution is due much to the nature of the recession : number of jobs have been lost in the industry sector, rather male, while the job creations are today strong in the tertiary sector, where women are more present.
Most importantly, regardless of its level, the unemployment rate reveals nothing about the women who have been excluded or taken out of the labour market – and therefore, not included among the job seekers. “This is not the indicator most relevant for understanding gender inequalities related to work, complex and multifactorial “, said Olivier Thevenon, a member of the Organization of economic cooperation and development (OECD).
The more they have children, less women work
That is why the experts prefer to first look at the employment rate, measuring the proportion of people among those of working age. In the euro area, that of men is higher by 11.2 percentage points for women (76,6 % against 65,4 %). But this gap, often higher in the south…