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January 17, 2013Europe is not a monolithic entity—approximately 225 languages are spoken across Europe’s 47 countries (27 of which are part of the EU.)

Of course, opportunities for women differ greatly throughout Europe, but the overall regional representation of women in the workplace is still quite revealing. Below are five illuminating facts about European women in business drawn from the 2012 European Commission report, Women in Economic Decision-Making in the EU:

  1. 45 percent of those employed throughout the European Union are women, as are 56 percent of those enrolled in tertiary education and a majority of tertiary-level graduates.
  1. Women are therefore entering the labor market better-equipped than men—yet the higher their position, the less likely they are to encounter other women. According to the European Commission, this suggests that “women have fewer opportunities than men to advance in their careers and…women’s skills are not being used to their full potential.”
  2. In January 2012, the average number of female board members in the largest companies listed in the EU was 13.7 percent, compared with 11.8 percent in 2010.
  1. While the overall number of women in the boardroom is increasing, albeit at a snail’s pace, women are hardly ever chairpersons or presidents of major companies. Of the 600 largest listed companies in the EU, more than 96 out of 100 company presidents are men—and there is no sign that this is changing anytime soon.
  1. In December 2012, the European Commission announced that the European Business Schools Women on Boards Initiative will transform its “Global Board Ready Women” list of 8,000 women into an online database. According to the commission: “There are more than enough eminently qualified women to help lead Europe’s and the world’s corporations into the 21st century and it is now time to shatter the glass ceiling that keeps these women from ascending to board of directors positions.” Let’s hope so!

For expanded citations, please contact Catalyst’s Information Center.