EIGE has recently taken over the European Commission’s database on women and men in decision-making. The data will complement other areas of gender statistics already covered by EIGE’s Gender Statistics Database, such as employment, education and health.

The number of women holding decision-making positions has been gradually increasing over the last ten years, from politics to business and media. The latest figures on women and men in decision-making show that the EU is taking a slow but steady path towards gender balanced representation.

In national parliaments, women account for less than a third of the members. This figure varies considerably across Member States, from 46.1% in Sweden to 9.5% in Hungary. A look behind the numbers shows that gender imbalance is further reflected in the division of ministers’ portfolios. Women politicians are often appointed to more nurturing and feminine portfolios such as education, health and culture, reinforcing traditional stereotypes about women’s roles and expertise. Their male counterparts tend to be designated to more hardline and masculine areas such as defence, security and technology.

Whilst “gender parity” implies equal representation of women and men in a decision-making position, the term “gender balance” is used to describe at least 40% of each gender.

In the private sector, the progress towards gender parity is mixed, with some areas advancing faster than others. There has been an upward trend in the number of women in boardrooms since 2010, when the matter became a priority on the European’s Commission political agenda. The proportion of women on the boards of the largest listed companies in the EU doubled from 11.9% in 2010 to 23.9% in 2016. Nevertheless, at the most senior levels of top management, men are still making the majority of the decisions. Only 5.7% of CEO positions are held by women.

Gender imbalance is also common across the EU media landscape. Although nearly two thirds of graduates from journalism courses are women, few tend to advance to senior posts compared to men. Only a third of decision-making positions in this field across the EU are held by women. A positive trend has been noted among public broadcasting organisations, where the percentage of women holding board seats went up from 30.4% in 2014 to 35% in 2016.


Data on decision-making are collected for the 28 EU Member States and seven other European countries [1]. Data on national and European politics are updated quarterly and data on key decision-making positions in large listed companies are collected every six months. Other data is updated annually.

Access the database on women and men in decision-making here

For more information on the situation of women and men in decision-making, read our report here

For more information, please contact Ligia Nobrega, ligia.nobrega@eige.europa.eu

1 Four candidate countries (Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) and the remaining EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

Image © European Union 2016 - Source EP