Glass ceiling still keeps women out of top positions

Greece has four main priorities for promoting sexual equality in Europe during its presidency of the European Union – incorporating equality into all policies and activities, inclusion of women in the information society, fighting violence against women and strengthening women’s rights. Just a few days before today’s celebration of International Women’s Day, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and General Secretary for Equality Effi Bekou represented the EU at the 47th session of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. Skandalidis drew attention to the low representation of women in the sectors of information technology and telecommunications. «Even if there are more women than men in higher education as a whole, they have fewer chances of securing jobs requiring more skills and paying higher wages,» he said. Euro Deputy Rodi Kratsa heads the International Organization for the Promotion of Women of Europe, whose Greek branch held a round-table discussion in Athens recently on the phenomenon referred to as the «leaking pipe.» Kratsa said many women who have specialized in many scientific fields disappear from the professional community for various reasons. Although women comprise half of all postgraduate students, they hold less than 10 percent of senior positions in the professional world. In Greece, women comprise 57.2 percent of all university graduates. At Athens University, the percentage of women graduates is as high as 72.7 percent, in Thessaloniki it is 58.6 percent; at Panteion, 67.4 percent; Piraeus University, 54.6 percent; Athens Economic University, 54.6 percent; the School of Fine Arts, 72.2 percent; the Ionian University, 79.5 percent and at the University of the Aegean, 60.7 percent. Only at the National Technical University of Athens are women in the minority, at 34.1 percent according to Anna Karamanou, head of the European Parliament’s Committee for Women’s Rights. Karamanou sees these high percentages as a «triumph for Greek women and their greatest victory in the past 50 years» after gaining the vote. Around the world, women appear to be under-represented in many prominent sectors. Since 1901 when the Nobel Prizes were instituted, only 3 percent of the awards have been to women. At the presentation of the last awards in December 2002 in Stockholm and Oslo, a group of writers, journalists and artists from Sweden sent a written protest accusing the judges’ committee of using sexist criteria. «Where are Virginia Woolf, Karen Blixen, Edith Wharton, Katherine Mansfield, Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Elsa Morante, Marguerite Yourcenar, Marguerite Duras or Doris Lessing?» they asked. Professor Ebba Witt Brattstreom, wife of Secretary of the Swedish Academy Horace Engdahl, posed this question: «If this year, by pure coincidence, all the recipients were men, why shouldn’t they all be women next year, again by pure coincidence?»

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