Men still earn more than women in Europe. Additionally, women earn relatively more money when they choose careers not dominated by men, new research suggests. A study of 20 industrialized nations found that in countries where men and women tend to work in different occupations, the pay inequality between them is lower.

Small countries are sometimes fairer than big ones as Spain

The greatest fairness can be found in Slovenia where, on average, women earn slightly more than men.  Sweden and Hungary also saw average pay between men and women which was almost equal, because in these countries men and women work in different occupations to a greater extent than in many of the others looked at. Researchers from Britain’s Warwick Business School and the University of Cambridge and Lakehead in Canada discovered that the gap between men and women’s pay was larger in countries where they worked in the same job.

 Warwick Business School’s Dr. Girts Racko attributed the surprising results to the fact that when there are few men in an occupation, women have a better chance of getting to the top and earning more. But where there are more equal numbers of men and women working in an occupation, men dominate the high-paying jobs.

“Higher overall segregation tends to reduce male advantage and improve the position of women,” Racko said. “The greater the degree of overall segregation, the less the possibility exists for discrimination against women and so there is more scope for women to develop progressive careers.

The research, published in the journal Sociology, compared the degree to which men and women were working in different professions with the gap between their pay.  Racko, Professor Robert Blackburn of the University of Cambridge, and Dr Jennifer Jarman of Lakehead, used statistics for each country on the proportion of women and men in each occupation, and the overall average gap in pay. They correlated these to show the relationships between workplace segregation of the sexes and the gap in their pay.