6. Domain of power

A hundred years ago, women across the EU made historic gains — they won the right to vote and to be elected, and they held pioneering positions in national decision-making bodies (European Parliament, 2019). A century later, the composition of parliamentary assemblies and executive government at all territorial levels often fails to reflect the gender diversity of the population they represent, with women usually significantly under-represented in politics. In business, despite political and media attention, pressure from shareholders and an ever-growing body of research on the performance benefits of gender-balanced decision-making, corporate boards also remain heavily dominated by men.

The European Commission brought the issue to the fore of the political agenda in 2010 by considering possible legislative action (European Commission, 2011). It followed this though in 2012 with a proposed directive to improve gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies, targeting at least 40 % of the under-represented sex (European Commission, 2012). More recently, EU actions to tackle vertical (gender) segregation in companies, sectors and occupations form a key part of the Commission’s 2017-2019 action plan to tackle the gender pay gap.

The domain of power measures gender equality in decision-making positions across the political, economic and social spheres. The sub-domain of political power examines the representation of women and men in national parliaments, government and regional/local assemblies.
The sub-domain of economic decision-making is measured by the proportion of women and men on corporate boards of the largest nationally registered companies listed on stock exchanges and national central banks. The sub-domain of social power includes data on decision-making in research-funding organisations, media and sports.

Decision-making in research-funding institutions, media and sports organisations indicates that women’s opportunities to influence the policies, funding and content remain limited. This despite the growing involvement of women in research, their employment in the media sector and their participation in sport.