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Women and men in decision-making highlights RSS

Fourth quarter 2014

The latest update of the European Commission's database on women and men in decision-making was completed in December 2014. The update includes:

  • a quarterly update of data on political decision-making at European and national level;
  • an annual update of data on regional level politics, public administration at national level and the environment.

In addition, the database has been expanded to include for the first time data on social partner organisations at the national level. These data will facilitate the routine calculation of indicators developed and adopted by the EPSCO Council in November 2003 for monitoring the representation of women and men in economic decision making in relation to the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).

Data were collected between 29 October and 12 December 2014.

European political institutions

  • The new European Commission (since 1 November 2014) presided over by Mr Jean-Claude Juncker includes 9 women (32%), the same as the outgoing Barroso Commission.


  • The gender balance in the single/lower house of national parliaments across the EU remains unchanged at 28% women and 72% men despite elections in three Member States.
  • In Sweden the share of women in the national parliament remained unchanged at 44%, but elections in Bulgaria and Latvia both resulted in a decrease of the proportion of female MPs. Women now account for 20% of members of parliament in Bulgaria (down from 26%) and 18% in Latvia (also previously 26%).
  • The gender balance in upper houses of parliament (which exist in 13 of the 28 EU Member States) also remains unchanged, with 25% women and 75% men. In France the proportion of women senators increased from 23% to 25% following a partial renewal of the senate, whereas there were slight declines (around 2 pp) in Germany and Ireland, where the shares are now 38% and 30% respectively.
  • A quarter (25%) of single/lower houses of parliaments and nearly a third (31%) of upper houses are led by a woman.


  • At EU level, women account for 27% of members of national governments, a figure that has remained more or less unchanged since the end of 2012.
  • Changes in the composition of national governments since August 2014 have resulted in both positive and negative changes in terms of gender balance. The proportion of women in the cabinet increased in Slovenia (+25 percentage points (pp) to 40%), Finland (+12 pp to 59%), Poland (+11 pp to 32%) and Estonia (+7 pp to 43%). In contrast, in Slovakia the new cabinet has no women members (previously 7%), and there were decreases in the proportion of female senior ministers also in Belgium (by 10 pp to 21%), Denmark (10 pp to 30%), Latvia (7 pp to 29%), Italy (6 pp to 41%) and Sweden (by 4 pp to 50%).


  • The proportion of women in regional assemblies and regional executives remains unchanged (32% and 34% respectively). The significant under-representation of women in leadership positions also persists with women accounting for just 14% of presidents of regional assemblies and 11% of presidents of regional executives.
  • Spain, France, Finland and Sweden are the only Member States in which the members of regional assemblies include at least 40% of each gender. The most pronounced imbalance occurs in Hungary (9% women, 91% men) but women also account for less than one in five members of regional assemblies in Italy (13%), Romania (15%), Slovakia (16%), Greece (17%) and the Czech Republic (19%).

Public administration at national level

  • The gender balance in the top two tiers of public administrations in EU Member States has improved slightly over the past year. The 2014 data show that women accounted for 31% of level 1 administrators and 40% of level 2 administrators, both levels being 1 pp higher than in 2013.
  • It remains the case that women are best represented in senior positions within ministries dealing with social functions such as labour, health, education or family (42% level 1, 49% level 2) and are least well represented in ministries dealing with basic functions such as home affairs, defence or  justice (27% level 1, 35% level 2).


  • The proportion of women in delegations from the EU to bodies operating with the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has increased over the past year: in the EU delegation to the Subsidiary Bodies (from 40% to 48%) and in national delegations to the Conference of the Parties (from 43% to 45%).
  • At the EU level, the election of a new European Parliament and the appointment of a new European Commission in 2014 have brought mixed results in terms of the gender balance amongst officials working in areas linked to the environment. On the one hand, heads of cabinets in DG Climate Action and DG Mobility & Transport are now women; while on the other hand, the share of women in the cabinets of DG Energy and DG Environment has decreased (from 43% to 17% and from 60% to 50% respectively). In the European Parliament the share of women in environment related committees has decreased slightly (from 37% to 36%).
  • Female representation amongst national government ministers with an environmental portfolio has increased from 19% to 28% for senior ministers (those with a seat on the cabinet) and from 24% to 27% for junior ministers. There has also been small improvement in the gender balance amongst administrators in the top two tiers of environment ministries: from 29% to 30% in the top tier and from 35% to 38% in the second tier. 

National social partners

  • Data collected in November/December 2014 on the representation of women in key positions in social partner organisations organised at national level reveals that women are generally better represented in organisations representing employees than in those representing employers. Across the EU as a whole, women constitute 27% of all members of the highest decision-making body in employee organisations and just 14% in employer organisations.
  • At national level, there is at least 40% of each gender in the highest decision-making bodies of employee organisations in five countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and the UK) but with the exception of Sweden (37%) all countries have less than 30% women in the equivalent bodies within employer organisations.
  • Women are better represented in the top executive positions than in the top non-executive positions. In employee organisations women constitute 19% of secretary generals (or equivalent executive head) and only 11% of presidents whilst in employer organisations the shares are 21% and 6% respectively. In more than half of Member States (15) none of the social partner organisations (employee or employer) has a female president whilst a quarter (7) have no organisations with a female secretary general (or equivalent).
  • At vice-president level, a quarter (25%) are women in employee organisations but just 11% in employer organisations.