Unemployment among Greek women aged 15 to 64 stood at 13.2 percent last year, the second-highest rate in the 27-member European Union, after Latvia with 13.9 percent, according to figures issued by Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistics service. According to Eurostat, Greece also had the biggest gap between male and female joblessness in 2009, with the statistics standing at 6.9 percent and 13.2 percent respectively. The agency noted that Greek women who do work receive on average 78 percent of the wages of their male counterparts. The projections for this year show the situation worsening. Unemployment among Greek women is expected to reach 15.9 percent by the end of this year, while the figure for men is estimated at 8.5 percent. However Eurostat points out in its report that Greek men have suffered a bigger blow since the onset of the country’s financial crisis, which has led to widespread redundancies in the private sector. According to Eurostat’s figures, unemployment among men rose from 6.4 percent in May 2008 to 9.3 percent in September 2009. For women, the rate of joblessness increased by a smaller margin in the same period, from 7.4 percent to 9 percent. Unemployment among men in the EU’s newest member states is even higher than in Greece however. In Estonia, the figure was 16.9 percent in 2009, in Latvia 20.3 percent and in Lithuania 17.1 percent. But, according to experts, women are expected to suffer more over the coming months in Greece and in other EU countries struggling with similar debt problems. Female employees of small to medium-sized businesses are the most vulnerable, particularly those on short-term contracts, according to Maria Karamessini, a lecturer in political science at Athens’s Panteion University. Many of the short-term contracts in the public sector are held by women, who also face increasing insecurity in view of the government’s streamlining plans, Karamessini said.