On today's Equal Pay Day (March 6, 2024), Mastercard investigated the relationship between finances and salary with its representative Womenomics Study 2024. The study results demonstrate the extent to which financial topics are tabooed in the work context in Germany. But also, how isolated women in the country feel by employers and the state. From the perspective of women, closing the wage gap plays a significant role in financial self-determination, leading to less stress and fear due to financial worries.

The gender pay gap limits financial self-determination for 23% of women
The Equal Pay Day annually reminds of the wage gap between men and women. This year, women in Germany will have worked unpaid until March 6. Other EU countries are further ahead: In Switzerland, Equal Pay Day was on February 17, and in Austria, even on February 14, 2024. The gender pay gap in Germany is 18%, which according to the Federal Statistical Office, averages a salary that is 4.46 euros per hour less for women. Even with comparable work, qualifications, and career histories, the adjusted pay gap is six percent. Around one-quarter of the women surveyed (23%) in Germany perceive the gender pay gap as a significant problem for their financial self-determination. The importance of financial independence is highlighted by the fact that 40 percent of respondents state that financial responsibility has boosted their confidence.

Equal Pay? Mostly missing – It´s the employers turn
The most significant lever for financial freedom and self-determination is the salary. Employers must ensure equal treatment. However, the Mastercard survey shows: Only about two in ten women (18%) say that their employers have made special arrangements to improve their financial situation. These include equal pay policies and support for retirement planning. Men feel differently: More than one in four men surveyed (27%) say that their employers offer them special programs or regulations to improve their financial situation.

State: The majority of women see low commitment to equal opportunities
So how can women achieve financial freedom and self-determination? In Germany, the Pay Transparency Act has been in force since 2017. The Equal Pay Day in Germany has only moved from March 21 to March 6 over the last ten years. Accordingly, the view of the federal citizens on the state's commitment is sober: Only 18% of women feel that the government is taking measures and has programs to prevent their financial disadvantages.

Let’s talk about the Money! 40% remain silent about finances at the workplace
How can there be more (pay) transparency? Clearly, the tabooing of financial topics leads to little comparability among colleagues. In Germany, colleagues remain silent about financial matters: Four out of ten women do not talk about money matters at the workplace – 27% have never discussed it with colleagues, and for 13%, finances are generally a taboo topic in the team. More than four out of ten respondents (42%) have confidentiality concerns when speaking openly about their salary and financial situation. Yet, more than half of the women (55%) place great value on transparency and honesty in financial matters.

Stress factor: Every fifth woman in Germany experiences stress or fear with money matters
The gender pay gap results in less money in women's accounts. Almost every fifth woman (17%) in the country says she feels signs of emotional stress or anxiety as soon as she thinks about her finances. Among men, this affects only half as many (8%). Almost a quarter of women (23%) even feel ashamed to talk about their finances.

When it comes to economic participation and opportunities, according to the World Economic Forum, Germany ranks in the lower midfield with 88 out of 147. Employers can make a decisive difference and set the course for more equality.

In the context of the study's publication, Dr. Peter Robejsek, Managing Director at Mastercard Germany, stated that the company is committed to the financial participation and equality of women: "Equality and justice at the workplace must become 'business as usual.' Mastercard has been committed to gender equality and equal pay for years: Women at Mastercard worldwide earn the same as their male colleagues. We support work-life balance through maximum flexibility. Therefore, we offer both mothers and fathers 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave. This offer is, of course, equally taken up by mothers and fathers."

Study Methodology
The study is based on the results of a representative online panel study conducted by the research institute Vitreous World on behalf of Mastercard among women and men aged 18 to 64 years. From January 2 to 7, 2024, 12,146 individuals – one thousand individuals each – were surveyed in the following twelve European countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom. In Germany, 1,015 people participated in the survey.

Fotos: Mastercard

Profilbild von Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski is a financial journalist and author of various investment fund-related and other financial books. She is also a co-founder of the "Fondsfrauen" network.

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