Only 3% Women on Bulgarian Company Boards - MEPBulgaria in EU | October 24, 2012, Wednesday // 12:49| views
According to Bulgarian MEP Antonia Parvanova, women account for only 3% of senior company executives in Bulgaria, compared to an average 10% for Europe. Photo by BGNES
Asked to comment on Bulgaria's opposition to the EU initiative to set mandatory quotas for the percentage of women on European company boards, Bulgarian MEP Antoniya Parvanova reminded that women accounted for as little as 3% of senior company executives in the country, compared to an average 10% for Europe.
Parvanova noted that the share of women on company boards had registered a slight increase over the past five years, adding that it would take 40 years to achieve gender equality.
Reminding that it was not the business sector but the Bulgarian government which rejected the proposal, Parvanova suggested that more work with the government and a strengthened exchange of information would remedy the situation.
Bulgaria's MEP dispelled as "absolute nonsense" allegations that the introduction of women board quotas would lead to reverse discrimination, i.e. getting women on company boards just because of their gender.
She specified that the EU initiative envisaged quotas for male and female job applicants with equal qualifications.
"At first some of the countries claimed that they did not have a sufficient share of qualified women. Commission Reding asked EU universities to compile statistics on the number of women with an appropriate university degree and career development. It turned out that there were 8000 women in Europe who could occupy senior management positions in multinational companies," Parvanova told inews.bg.
Bulgaria's MEP went on to say that the European Central Bank (ECB) had received several applications by women and yet "the club" remained male.
She specified that the US Federal Reserve had achieved a 50-50 male-female split.
Parvanova argued that it would be very hard to achieve a voluntary equalization of the male/female ratio without quotas.
The Bulgarian MEP made clear that no sector had achieved a good male/female balance in senior management.
She specified, however, that the situation was better in middle management, where the share of women was 20-30%.
Parvanova stated that the share of female employees dominated in the spheres of services, healthcare, and education, yet the women never made it to senior management.
She cited Eurostat data indicating that the sectors concentrating the highest amounts of money, including finance, renewable energy sources, innovations, and IT, the presence of women was very scarce.
The Bulgarian MEP explained that the distortion was hard to spot on the labor market, yet the pensions of women were almost 100% lower than those of men due to the lower wages.
She concluded that the problem required a specialized European policy and a strategy envisaging positive, yet sobering incentives.
Parvanova proposed the introduction of instructive quotas, adding that EU Member States could be made to include them into their national plans.
She also recommended a series of other measures encouraging women participation, starting with state-owned companies, the government, parliamentary commissions, and the state administration.