Status of Women
A patriarchal family structure based on a traditional genderspecific division of labor characterizes attitudes toward
marriage and family. By the early 1990s, however, a greater
emphasis on marriage as a partnership had become more common
among the younger generation, especially among the urban middle
class. A 1976 law establishes the principle of equal rights and
duties for married men and women, as well as equal rights and
responsibilities for caring for children.
The Equal Treatment Law of 1979 makes various forms of
discrimination against women illegal. Amended a number of times
since it was first passed, the law seeks to establish equal
rights for women, especially in the workplace. It posits, for
example, the principle of equal pay for equal qualifications and
sets up commissions for the arbitration of complaints and
violations related to pay, promotion, and sexual discrimination
and harassment. The Women's Omnibus Law, which went into effect
in 1993, is a further measure to reduce discrimination against
women. One of the its goals is increasing the employment of women
in government agencies in which they make up less than 40 percent
of the staff. The law also directs that women who have been
denied promotions because of their gender or have suffered sexual
harassment receive compensation.
The Austrian concept of "equal treatment" differs
substantially from the United States idea of "equal rights."
Austrian legislation not only aims at establishing equality in
realms where there is discrimination against women, but it also
attempts to provide women with additional benefits related to the
inequities inherent in the gender-specific division of labor.
Thus, it tries to establish benefits to compensate for "unpaid
work" in the household, the dual burden of employment and childrearing many women bear, and single parenting. In other words,
"equal treatment" involves interpreting equality literally in
some spheres and attempting to compensate for the gender-specific
inequality of burdens in others.
Despite the improvement of the legal position of women in
Austria since the mid-1970s, traditional role models prevail.
Whether women are employed outside the home or not, many Austrian
men consider the great majority of housework and child-rearing
tasks to be "women's work." For example, 80 percent of the
married women surveyed at the end of the 1980s were solely
responsible for laundry, 66 percent for cooking, and 51 percent
for cleaning. Almost 20 percent of Austrian men do no household
tasks. However, 75 percent of married men assume responsibility
for shopping and other activities outside the home, a reflection
of the division of labor in the traditional family between work
inside and outside the home.
Although education is the primary determinant of income in
Austria, a person's gender also plays a role. At the end of the
1980s, the average monthly net income for an employed woman was
S12,858 (for value of the
schilling--see Glossary), or S11,161
for a blue-collar worker and S14,790 for a white-collar employee.
The average monthly net income for an employed man was S19,175,
or S17,522 for a blue-collar worker and S24,734 for a whitecollar employee. The pay differentials between men and women are
lowest for those employed as civil servants (8 percent), compared
with the private sector, where a range of 20 to 40 percent for
blue-collar workers and white-collar employees prevails. Although
sex discrimination is responsible for some of the male-female
salary differentials, men traditionally are better trained than
women. More women in the labor force are unskilled workers than
are men: 38 percent of women versus; 25 percent for men.
Additional vocational training is much more common among men than
among women: 50 percent for men versus 28 percent for women.
Highly educated women are more likely to be employed than
those with less education. Around 84 percent of women between the
ages of thirty and fifty-five having university degrees are
employed, compared with only 53 percent of women who have been in
school for only the required nine years. The number of men and
women in the labor force who have completed secondary or
university educations is approximately the same: 10 and 7
percent, respectively. Nevertheless, equal qualifications among
men and women are not a guarantee of equal advancement in
professions. For example, at the end of the 1980s only 16 percent
of women having university or advanced degrees held leading
positions as salaried employees or civil servants. Thus, despite
the improvement of the legal status of women, the income
differential between men and women has not decreased considerably
since the early 1980s, and the implementation of equal rights
legislation has proved difficult in practice.
Data as of December 1993