Topic 2 Module 3: Spotting Discrimination in the Workplace

In Module 3, you will find information on the following aspects:

  • Policies

  • Discrimination in the workplace

  • Strategies for change

This Module aims to:

    • Provide basic information on equality policies and rights in the workplace

    • Offer a space for reflection on situations of “low intensity” inequality in our day-to-day life

    • Provide tools that support a positive change

Image by Malachi Witt from Pixabay

The information on equality policies and strategies goes beyond the scope of this module, therefore we would like to suggest that you check the links provided within the modules in order to expand your knowledge on the content shown.

The principle of equality and non-discrimination of workers is a fundamental right that is recognised internationally.

EU (European Union) policies, in addition to the specific ones of each EU member state, offer a framework in the defence of equal rights. Economic independence of women and gender equality have been fundamental principles of the EU policy since the Treaty of Rome (1957).

The main lines of action will be discussed in Module 3.

Exploring Resources

As part of this module of the FENCE curriculum, you can find information on the main bodies promoting equality in:







Check out Module 3 for all the links and resources!

Main topics in spotting discrimination in the workplace

Despite the considerable progress that has been made in relation to women’s participation in the labour market, significant inequalities and gaps still persist between women and men. Some examples can be found here and explained further in Module 3.

  • “The gender pay gap in the EU stands at 14.1% and has only changed minimally over the last decade. It means that women earn 14.1% on average less per hour than men” (European Commission, 2018). 

  • Even if increasing in the last decades, candidate EU countries’ employment and participation rates for women are still systematically lower than for men. Additionally, the employment rate for women in the EU Member States is approximately 67%, versus 79% for men (Eurostat, 2018).

  • One-third of employed women were working part time (30%) in the EU in 2018, nearly four times the rate for men (8%).

  • According to Eurofound (2013), women spend 26 hours per week in unpaid work and men only spend 9 hours.

  • Eurostat (2018) statistics show that there is a gender gap when it comes to the work interruption for childcare reasons. In 2018 (EU-28), a third of employed women had a work interruption for childcare reasons. On the contrary, the percentage for men is at 1.3 %.

  • In the European Union, 40-50% of women have reported some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Find source here

Definitions and examples

In general terms, gender discrimination at work means that an employee or a job applicant is treated differently because of their sex and/or gender.

How can we experience discrimination?


  • There is direct discrimination. This is when people are treated differently just because of their sex. For example, in their wages and salaries.

  • There is also indirect discrimination. This may occur when women and men are treated differently when in a hiring or working condition that should theoretically be neutral.

  • Direct discrimination is easier to detect and fight against than indirect. Indirect discrimination is a common method of discriminating whilst avoiding the appearance of doing so. This discrimination is not always deliberate, it may be unconscious.

Take a look at how to challenge gender stereotypes in Module 3.

Strategies for Change – Parenthood

The main strategies for reconciliation and parenthood focused on:

  • Flexible working for employees

  • Training and guidance on parental leave policies and procedures for HR departments

  • Support

  • Institutional campaigns for change awareness about women’s and men’s roles in the family

  • Campaigns for same-sex couples to bring awareness and reduce discrimination

  • The strategies are targeted for women, men and LGBTQAI+ persons

More information on strategies can be found in Module 3.

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