El País: Female professor openly fights high gender pay gap in Slovakia

The major Spanish daily portrays Slovakia as one of the EU countries with the highest level of gender inequality through the story of Svetlana Fialová.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

“It’s not a very pleasant feeling to learn after two years of work experience at a university that the starting pay of your new non-female colleagues, is higher than for women in the same position,” Svetlana Fialová from Košice wrote on her Facebook profile.

Spain’s leading daily, El País, became interested in her story as an example of the gender pay gap in Slovakia, a conservative country where women still earn considerably less compared to men, according to the daily.

The situation has improved since 2004 when Slovakia had the widest gender pay gap of 27.6 percent in the EU, according to the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO), but men are still getting paid over 19 percent more, El País reported in both its Spanish and English editions.

Demanding equal wage

“The last thing I want to do is to harm my male colleagues, who are already in a very precarious condition,” Fialová told El País. “All I demand is what I am entitled to.”

Fialová is a designer and associate professor at the Faculty of Arts of the Technical University of Košice (TUKE) where she, amongst other activities, manages the graphics and experimental production studios. In spite of having more experience, the same level of education and workload, she continues to receive less money compared with her colleagues. Moreover, she only earns €120 above the minimum wage.

No one has given her any help so far, even though she made an official complaint.

“The head of the department said it was no business of his,” she told El País. The dean did not help her either.

Gender inequality

Female students significantly dominate at the faculty where Fialová lectures. However, the faculty and its departments are headed only by men. She would welcome the underdiscussed gender quotas, El País wrote.

“Many women in this country are willing to take a lower salary just as long as they have a job,” Monika Uhlerová, deputy head of the Confederation of Trade Unions Associations (KOZ), said to El País. “We lack the spirit to stand up for ourselves.”

Women have never raised their voices strongly enough to fight for a better economic position in society, so their representation in top positions at all levels remains low, the daily writes, and highlights as a good example the fact that five female government ministers are female.

“The new generation must lead the change,” Fialová said.

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