Consolidated online resource for European gender data: Excellent policy data, weak for D&I

The European Union’s Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has introduced a new online resource for Gender Statistics. It aims at serving as a comprehensive knowledge centre for gender statistics on various aspects of (in)equality between women and men. Initial tests show that the focus of the database is more on general demographics and public policy concerns than on employment or management.

With the ongoing political focus on fair gender representation, especially in key decision-making positions, the appetite for relevant and reliable data has been unstoppable. Counting men and women on Boards has always been a limited approach and certainly does not provide enough information to create the holistic agenda required to influence high level numbers. In order to make more complete and comparable data accessible, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), an EU agency, has created the new Gender Statistics Database providing a large variety of data on the situation of equality between women and men in the EU.

Accoding to Ligia Nobrega, Gender Statistics Database Officer at EIGE, “the new database is aimed to help statisticians, policy makers, researchers, students, journalists and anyone who is interested in statistics on gender equality”. She adds that the database provided information which can be used as a basis to inform policy-making and monitor progress in gender equality. D&I practitioners will note the emphasis on the public domain, general demographics and a wide array of policy areas. However, in the field of employment (and unemployment), the database currently provides 208 indicators, including on labour market segregation 41 indicators, start and end of working life 26, working time 96, work-life balance 69, Working environment 47 and earnings 112 indicators.

Many D&I practitioners will be excited about the great potential the new tool provides and how it can make their lives easier. Knowing that such complex initiatives may encounter initial runtime issues, we ran a number of sample inquiries three months after the launch (29 Feb 2016). We tested queries of the kind we expect our readers to look for.

  • As an example that is relevant in a D&I context, the database provides employment rates by sex, age and nationality. Data was imported from the EU Labour Force Survey, and hence contains survey (!) data, which has been harmonised at EU level. The database shows data for the EU and the Euro zone, and for six individual EU member states as well as Norway and Switzerland. Similar data quality is provided, e.g., for Average usual working hours of employees, by possibility to have variable working hours, sex and age.
  • More in-depth data is provided on the share of job-related learning activities among the non-formal education and training by sex. Again, we find survey data, this time coming from EuroStat and is complete for all EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey.
  • In the area of decision making, the database provides 55 indicators, 8 of which fall under Business and Finance (here, five refer to financial institutions and central banks). The statistics “Largest publicly listed companies: Composition of the boards (by sector of economic activity)” from DG JUST does not (yet) yield results, neither does “Largest publicly listed companies: All key decision making positions” or “Leaders of companies and small enterprises”.
  • In Education & Training, the category of lifelong learning offers 55 statistics, including 7 for skills & abilities. Here, data on individuals’ level of internet skills come from the Community Statistics on Information Society (CSIS) from Eurostat’s online database (survey data, harmonised at EU level). We see one data point per country (no gender split), showing the percentage of individuals who used a computer or the Internet, ever (while it is not entirely clear which of the two applies).
  • For Research, Science and Technology, the database provides, e.g., Academic degrees by level or field. Relevant data include participation or graduation from tertiary education by sex, level and field of education. Here, we find data for almost all countries for men and women who graduated in (e.g.) Engineering/manufacturing/construction or Science/maths/computing from 2002 until 2012 (most recent). Data comes from a mix of survey and administrative sources.
  • The decision-making category shows the number of Presidents and CEOs of Public broadcasters. Across the EU, 39 positions are held by men, 9 by women. The data is administrative (i.e. hard facts), coming from DG Justice.

While our initial check seems to suggest that the database might be stronger in general demographic respects and those areas relevant for public policy, we are glad that the initiative brings together data that was previously spread out over various sources. EIGE says that new data will be uploaded automatically, ensuring that the most up-to-date and accurate information is always accessible. Partners and sources include Eurostat, DG Justice and Consumers, Eurofound and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

The database also contains metadata, which shows what is behind the statistics. Through metadata you would be able to understand, for example, how the measurements have been made and how the results should be interpreted. It also shows who collects the data and how often it’s updated.

Both experienced statisticians and non-experts will be able to use the database with ease. Users can search for data with a keyword search or choose from a set of 6 entry points, such as thematic areas of interest (e.g. work and the labour market, education and training), EU policy areas (e.g. health, science, research and technology), EU strategies (e.g. EU 2020), EIGE’s Gender Equality Index and more.

To try it out, visit