The gender gap is still too wide in the engineering sector

The worst situation is recorded in SMEs and companies in the South

In the metalworking sector only one out of 5 employees is female. The figure emerges from the Fim Cisl survey on gender equality which collected data from 701 engineering companies throughout the country, mainly medium-large where the union is present.

The first data concerns that of the employed: in 2021 out of 295,057 employees, 61,664 women were employed, 20.9% of the total. A positive figure concerns the stability of employment relationships regardless of gender: the report shows that in the category fixed-term contracts are used only in 4% of cases.

The assessments change when we move on to part-time contracts which concern 5.35% of the total employed, but with large gender differences. In fact, more than one employee out of 5 (20.44%) adopts this type of contract e women represent 81.8% of workers on part-time contracts in the field. Secondly, it will be necessary to analyze how much this is a voluntary choice and how much, instead, it is a choice forced by family needs.

Job classification and wage gender gap

Moving on to the analysis of professional categories, the presence of women is distributed as follows:

– 19.3% of total middle managers and executives employed (representing 12% of total employees in the sector);

– 27.4% of office workers (who account for 39% of the total);

– 16.5% of the total number of manual workers (who account for 49% of the total number of employees).

The Fim-Cisl investigation therefore confirms that the presence of women is lower in productive and directly manufacturing activitieswhile it remains in the
general average for managerial figures.

The most negative note is the large wage gap which still registers. In fact, on average women see a value of the super minimums (remuneration elements linked to services and professionalism) recognized that is 15% lower than the average of employed persons. The value of the superminima amounts to 3,444 euros per year for women against the 4,065 euros per year received on average in the sector, numbers that highlight a growth in general remuneration in the metalworking sector, but also the gap to be bridged between genders.
The wage gender gap becomes even wider, with peaks of 43%, in companies without trade union representation, in SMEs and in companies located in the South.
In businesses with fewer than 250 employees the differential reaches 32%while it decreases to 9% in companies with more than 1,000 employees.

“It is imperative to pose the question of full equal pay as priorities in the trade union relations systemif we want to avoid female employment remaining in the engineering sector confined to a few tasks and not being fully considered and valued” commented the general secretary of the Fim Cisl Roberto Benaglia according to whom this must be the focus in the works that will lead to the next renewal of the collective bargaining agreement for metalworkers so that the sector can be attractive and sustainable for women.

In the report, the union highlights how equality must be pursued not only in strictly wage terms, but also balance between professional and personal life. On closer inspection, it is a reflection also stimulated by the high presence of part-time contracts among women in the sector.

“We need to more women specialized at all levels in the engineering world if we want to continue to grow and fill the skills gap that exists today”, added Benaglia.

Corporate welfare tools

The survey also focused on the welfare and reconciliation tools made available by companies, of which it shows a good diffusion. Indeed, 99% of those employed in the sector have access to corporate welfare tools about:

– flexible working hours systems, which affect 87.9% of workers;

– adoption of smart working for the activities that allow it (80.3% of workers);

– hour bank systems, i.e. a virtual register in which the hours of work exceeding one’s own work shift are set aside (65.4% of workers);

– leave or permits in addition to those of the National Collective Labor Agreement (62.7% of workers);

– concessions for cases of headquarters transfer (36.9%).

Specifically on parental assistance, the welfare tools offered in the metalworking sector are:

– subsidies for supporting children’s extra-curricular activities (for 34.7% of workers);

– contributions or agreements for access to nurseries or nursery schools for children (29.8%);

– additional parenting support services (26.2%);

– contribution for the birth of a child (8.9%).

The report highlights that in terms of welfare, flexible working hours and work-life balance solutions are widespread and today meet the needs of male and female workers, while to enhance the tools and solutions to support parenting and to the burdens of caring for children, an issue on which a greater commitment of the category in bargaining is needed.

Similarly to what happens for wages, protections and welfare and employment support tools are much more widespread in companies where there is company bargaining which reaches 81% of the workers of the companies surveyed in the report.
Definitely, second-level bargaining continues to ensure greater protection, more fairness Anda sharp reduction in gender gaps.