Coordinated by Aurelian GIUGĂL


Socio-political Aspects of Gender Barriers in Romania






Lumina –The University of South East Europe


Abstract: In the present preliminary study we shall present the results obtained by the research team of the project called “FEMINIS – Let’s Progress Together”. In this regard, we shall use the statistical data obtained from processing the results of a sociological survey conducted on the basis of questionnaires applied to 2,205 women participating in the vocational training activities organised within the project, initially May and December 2014. It will presented at the level of regional target groups and decision-makers of six regions in Romania: Bucharest-Ilfov, North-East, North-West, South-East Dobrogea, South Muntenia and West). Of the 46 questions of the questionnaire, we shall select the most representative and relevant to the purpose of the project, in order to identify the perception of women from these six regions regarding the existence of gender barriers and their repercussions at the workplace and in various existential contexts, targeting mainly women who consider themselves discriminated. We believe that the presentation of conclusions and proposals coming from researchers and the investigated women, which are to be found at the end of this study, may be useful in the prospect of consistent and effective gender policies applied both nationwide and on a region wide basis in Romania.


Keywords: gender barriers, gender discrimination, gender policies, equal opportunities.





Gender barriers represent an illustrative variety of issues for researchers from several disciplines. Moreover, their stagnancy in the robust pipeline of investigative ideas animating researchers and other members of the academia addresses the fragile processes which establish their perception as an issue to be reckoned with.  With this end in view, the present article is imbued with the idea of pinpointing the nature of contextualized perception regarding gender barriers in the six development regions that are delineated on the territory of Romania. A wide array of norms, of social practices, and of principles, besides from the qualitative experience of the respondents have to be utilized in order to understand perception-building in connection to gender barriers.

The scientific purposes that triggered our research where the ones that disclosed a mutual relation with the motives underlying the adjustment of Romania as a post-transition society to the European and international standards in field of gender equality, on the one hand, and the way in which the complementary variables connected to the local structure where these norms were meant to be embedded produced effects upon perception-building. As such the 42 questions are empirical questions that enabled us to deduct the logical relations regarding the valid pragmatism of the recent corrections made in the Romanian society for the betterment of the spurring of social practices that fight against gender barriers.





Internationally, in 1995, under the aegis of the United Nations (UNO), the researchers Matthias Busse and Christian Spielmann[i] proposed two sets of indicators to measure gender discrimination: the first was called GDI (The Gender-related Development Index) and included 3 variables: life expectancy at birth, educational expectations (situation of people who are able to read and write and situation of school enrolment) and access to resources in terms of GDP per capita, converted in rate of purchasing power at parity with the currency exchange rate. The second indicator, called SIGE, referred to access to education, longevity, high-level occupations and participation in parliament and the labour market, all being measured in relation to the proportion of women versus men. To these two sets of indicators, the authors subsequently added two more sets, which are quantified and signed by two conventions issued by the International Labour Organisation[ii] on the fight against discrimination of women at the level of each nation (recorded as: 1 - agreements signed, or 0 if the two agreements were not signed).

The results showed that the countries with the highest indicators of non-discrimination are those with consolidated democracies (top 10 countries: Norway - 0.941, Canada - 0,938 USA - 0.937, Sweden - 0.936, Iceland - 0.934, the Netherlands - 0.930, Finland - 0.928, Japan – 0.927, France – 0.926, United Kingdom - 0.925).

On-going studies, from which current and future trends in Europe can be established are developed based on Eurobarometers, as were those of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012, plus the one entitled “Inequalities and Multiple Discrimination in Access to and Quality of Healthcare European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights” of 2013, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. They were very useful sources targeting the discrimination of women as compared to men in the EU.

The statistical data of these documentary sources will be widely used in the final report of the project, therefore we shall not exhibit them in this general preliminary report.

            Considered as the most comprehensive investigation worldwide, the survey conducted by AWID Global Survey (Association of Women’s Rights in Development) of 2011 included 1,119 women’s organisations from 140 countries, and led to the identification of key issues regarding gender barriers in the whole world.

Thus, from this survey were derived the priorities and solutions seeking to combat global gender barriers. Out of these, the first 3 places indicated the following issues as priorities: 1. reducing gender-based violence; 2. enhancing women’s role in the governance of society; 3. increasing women’s role in economy.

United Nations Woman (an NGO of the UN which investigated, in this regard, 3,700 partners, organisations and individuals from several governments, civil society and academies) identified the following priorities in the fight against gender discrimination: cease violence against women; enhance women’s leading role in the world; peace and security (women’s participation); national planning and budgets to diminish gender barriers.

The new indicators as regards gender equality in the world, studied and quantified by country with this research, were as follows (Romania is in the middle overall standings, ranking 70 out of 136 countries): 1. Economic opportunities and Participation (indicator at which Romania ranks 55); 2. Educational purposefulness (indicator at which Romania ranks 50); 3. Health and Survival (indicator at which Romania ranks 34); 4. Political responsibilities (indicator at which Romania ranks 91). The countries with the smallest gaps regarding gender equality in terms of gender are located in Northern Europe.

One of the most recent studies on gender barriers and appropriate policies to mitigate them (in times of economic crisis) was developed in 2013 by F. Bettio, M. Corsi, C. D’Ippoliti, A. Lyberaki, M. Samek Lodovici & A. Verashchagina, as a report, entitled “The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Situation of Woman and Man and on Gender Equality  Policies”[1]. It was presented in Romanian by the Directorate for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men within the Ministry of Labour (under the title: “Synthesis of the Report entitled Impact of economic crisis on the situation of women and men and gender equality policies”) and focused on the economic impact of the global crisis on gender differences and how these differences are increasing or diminishing.

Other important documents that focused on issues related to access and opportunity differences between men and women in the countries of the European Union referred to various aspects and situations of status, role and problems of discrimination such as:

  1. Situation of poor women and their households[2];
  2. Situation of young women on the labour market, in decent conditions[3];
  3. Situation of women who experience verbal or non-verbal ill treatments, as is the case of sexual harassment[4].

In Romania, an important study on gender discrimination was the one prepared by the National Scientific Research Institute in the Field of Labour and Social Welfare, elaborated in 2008[5]. Another study, this time conducted by the National Council for Combating Discrimination[6], showed that, after Romania’s accession to the European Union, the perception on the degree of discrimination of female persons has remained the same” in a proportion of 42.8%. Also, the perception on the discrimination degree of women in society, compared to other categories, was of 27% for “not so much discriminated”, against 23.8% for “quite discriminated”.

Under the aegis of the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Romania - Frăţia, along with other nine partners (affiliated trade unions, NGOs and international companies) started since December 2010, the implementation of the project “Promoting the principle of gender equality at national level within civil society and local and central administration in 4 regions: South-Muntenia, North-East, South-East and North-West (the field research was conducted at the national level, from May 31 to July 7, 2011, on 1,502 persons from four economic branches). The project aimed to analyse four sectors of activity (public administration, education, trade, chemicals and petrochemicals) in terms of gender structural differences in profession, career and income. This last study highlighted herein dealt with the study of gender barriers, but only in terms of employment or promotion of women, to which were added issues of gender discrimination: regarding management positions held by women / men, wages corresponding to the same function / occupation, sex structure of employees in certain economic sectors / geographical areas, and in terms of identifying the causes and effects of discrimination, barriers to employment or promotion of women.





In the general preliminary report we have selected the main questions included in the questionnaires for women, enterprises and County Agencies for Employment (AJOFM, in Romanian – Agenţii Judeţene de Ocupare a Forţei de Muncă), applied to 2,205 women, participating in the vocational training activities conducted under the project, in the first period between May and December 2014 (the project continues for a period of 13 additional months) at the level of the 6 regions of the project implementation. We have also used other investigative tools applied by the research team of the project: periodical interviews, focus groups and meetings with the women participating in the vocational training activities organised especially in Bucharest (at UESEL’s headquarter – Universitatea Europei de Sud Est Lumina, The University of South East Europe Lumina), and the other 5 locations of the project in the country: Iaşi, Cluj Napoca, Timişoara, Ploieşti, Constanţa.

            By analysing the responses of the 2,205 women, participating in the vocational training activities held in the project, we want to identify certain trends emerging from the responses given by women, directors of companies and directors of AJOFM to the main questions addressed to them. Then we shall try to make standard typologies of possible discriminations, in labour and managerial positions, in everyday existential contexts, situations of differentiated status (such as unemployed women, housewives, single women or families with no income or very low revenues, etc.). Also, we made ​​a selection of type-responses, the most representative, showing typical repetitive situations, in a discriminatory context for women in different regions of Romania.

Questionnaire-based investigated women have the following characteristics:

From the socio-occupational viewpoint: a. 62% are employed on an indefinite period; b. 7.3% are employed on limited duration; c. 16.9% are housewives; 2.4% are retired; d. 3.4% are students, and the remaining 8% have another socio-occupational status;

From the educational point of view: a. 11.1% have secondary school education; b. 33.5% have completed high school education; c. 16.3% are short term university graduates; 33.5% are long term university graduates, and the remaining 5.6% stated other private educational situations;

Ethnically speaking: a. 95.4% are Romanians; b. 1.1% Hungarians; 0.1% Germans; 0.3% Rroma; 0.4% Tartars & Turks, 0.1% Bulgars;

In terms of age: a. 24.8% are aged between 25-34 years; b. 29.5% are aged between 35-44 years; a. 19,5% are over 44 years;

In terms of residence: 75.4% are from urban areas and 13.6% are from rural areas; 20.3% are from the region Bucharest-Ilfov, 12.5% are from the South Muntenia region, 14.4% are from South-East Dobrogea, 14.6% are from the West region, 19% are from the North-West region, 13,7% are from the North-East region;

In terms of income: 11% have no income, 12.4% earn between 801-1,000 lei per month, 6.2% earn between 1,501-1,750, 13.7% between 1,251 and 1,500 lei, etc., which shows that more than half of the investigated women are poor and very poor, in the socio-economic context of today’s Romania (52.2%).

The categories of gender barriers by fields of study were as follows:

Professional barriers: a. Wages; b. promotion at work; c. access to managerial positions;

Educational barriers: a. level of education (illiteracy, graduating school at different levels: secondary, high school, university and post-graduate); b. participation in continuing vocational training (CVT); c. barriers due to the impact of gender in influencing the choice of educational and career paths; d. access to the labour market; e. insertion / reinsertion in the labour market;

Barriers due to the difficulty of reconciling work with family and private life: a. Problems of young people who share the same house with their parents; b. domestic violence; c. barriers related to the asymmetry of the financial resources in families of women compared to men;

Barriers due to the unequal distribution of family responsibilities: a. Childcare; b. related to divorce;

Cultural barriers: a. Habits related to occupational fields specific to women; b. cultural barriers related to ethnicity / race (especially the Roma ethnic group); c. other cultural barriers related to sex;

Objective barriers (economic context): a. Structural or regional economic crisis; b. dismissals as a result of business closures; c. retraining required by the labour market; d. related to health and other aspects;

Subjective (psychological, cultural and social, self-imposed) barriers.


The results of the partial survey will be part of the final research report of the project “FEMINIS – Let’s Progress Togetherand will be disseminated in conferences which will be organised in the six regions of the project implementation.

There were 3 important working hypotheses of the research: 1. To check one of the results of other studies published in Romania, namely that there is no degree of overall relevant discrimination: in this respect, we should point out that most studies on this topic are addressed to both women and men (compared to us, who preferred to address solely to women who are the subject of such issues on gender barriers); 2. However we envisage a greater degree of discrimination (although overall insignificant) in the case of women who have a job, compared to those who are jobless (such as housewives or unemployed women); 3. We posit the hypothesis that the recent economic structural or regional crisis was more detrimental to women than men for various reasons, among which dismissals should be on a leading position among such possible causalities.





We shall briefly present below the analyses derived from the responses of the women investigated, based on the questionnaire applied to them between May and September 2014.

A first set of questions concerned only women who have a job. Thus, a first issue (highlighted by a question), focussed on working women, as to the possible gender barriers, was as follows: “Do you consider that you have the same remuneration as that of a man who has the same level of training and function at your current employment?

The answers are shown in the chart below (fig. 1):


Fig. 1


 We see that women who have a job in the six regions do not view themselves discriminated as regards remuneration, although it is known that formally it should be confidential[7].

Another problem monitored by this study in the case of women who have a job referred exclusively to the 8.3% of the women (i.e. 183 women out of 2,205) who considered themselves discriminated. Asking them to specify the causes underlying the discrimination experienced they were as follows:failure to comply with the salary scale”, lack of confidence in the ability of women to perform an activity of quality equal to a man”, maternity leaves, raising children, sick leaves”, other causes” (8 persons).

When asked: Do you think that in the entity where you work meritorious people are promoted in due time regardless of sex?” the investigated employed women answered as shown in the following chart:

                                                                                                            Fig. 2



Once again, we note that about half of the investigated employed women do not regard themselves as being discriminated when it comes to promotion. However, over a third of them believes that the promotion is made on criteria other than merit (political adhesion, relations chief, backstairs influence, nepotism etc.).

To be more accurate about a possible discrimination, the next question was trenchant: Given your professional experience (at all the jobs that you’ve had so far), have you ever felt discriminated against as a woman?

Here are the responses:

                                                                                                    Fig. 3


The data in the above table identify and specify discriminating employers, but surprisingly, we find that the most discriminating employers are female bosses of enterprises and other institutions.

Insisting on some potential cases of discrimination, the next question was this: If you encountered a barrier to career advancement or you experienced discrimination at work, what did you do?” (it was the case only of women who stated the existence of the above mentioned discrimination), and the responses were: they abandoned work (8.4%) informed an institution of the Romanian state to eliminate this barrier (only 5.7%), accepted the situation as such (20.4%), it was not the case (60.3%), have done otherwise (3.8% - examples: resigned, they said their opinion or dissatisfaction, they made themselves respected, etc.).

As regards the behaviour of the current chief of the investigated employed women, they answered as follows:

                                                                                  Fig. 4


We note the preponderance of the responses that the current chief of the women employed in the 6 regions has a democratic behaviour, followed by the authoritarian one, the latter being insignificant (even more so since only 18.5% of them have a leading position where they work). However, it is worth mentioning that the democratic style is desired by more than three quarters of the respondents i.e. 67.4%).

Asked whether they prefer to work with women or with men (“Generally speaking do you prefer to work in an environment with…”), most employed women responded they have no preference in this regard”, as reflected in the chart below.


                                                                                                            Fig. 5




The next question selected from the questionnaire applied to the employed women addressed the issue of managerial functions involving women. This question was worded as follows: As far as you know, in the entity where you work which is the numerical proportion of managers (leaders who make decisions and commit themselves) among men compared to women? (The respondents put only an X where applicable) and the results were as follows:








Table 1

Numerical proportion of managers


1. There are much more male managers than female for there are more men in the company


2. There are much more male managers than female, though there are more men in the company


3. Managers are in about equal proportions, though there are more men in the company


4. Managers are in about equal proportions, though there are more women in the company


5. There are much more female managers than male


6. I know nothing about this aspect


7. Non-response (because they do not work or do not want to answer)



Knowing that most women perform activities which are specific to women the relatively equal distribution of men versus women can be explained as regards the weight in top-management positions in the economic entities of the regions.

We now pass to the general questions applicable to all the 281 women participating in the sociological investigation of the field research under the project “FEMINIS – Let’s Progress Together”.

The first general problem targeted the income of the women participating in our research. Thus, the question sounded like this: “Are the revenues of the family you are part of (or just your own if you live alone) sufficient for your daily (or monthly, from all sources) living?” The answers can be traced in the following table:


Table 2



1. I have an impecunious living, I consider myself poor (I cannot manage, I do not have the required daily bare necessities)


2. My incomes do not suffice for the whole month, but, I manage without sparing anything (for example: I rent some properties or assets, I borrow money from other people,  I provide my own means of living – garden, agricultural lot,  worked directly or rented.), so I consider myself ranking just below the average of Romania`s current society


3. With my current incomes I satisfy my monthly needs and I can spare something in addition (I do small savings), I have a  decent standard of living, so I rank just below the average of Romania`s contemporary society


4. With my current incomes,  I can provide for myself everything I want, so I  rank high above the average of  Romania`s contemporary society



As one can observe from the above table, the ratio of poor-middle-class-rich women, when considering the respondents to our questionnaire, emphasises a huge disproportion:   66.0% – 31.7% – 2.3%.

The subsequent aspect rendered by our questionnaire targets the juridical framework. For the question: “Do you consider that Romania has an adequate juridical framework (an effectual legislation) for equal opportunities for men and women on the labour market?”, the answers were the following: 

The opinion of the majority of the inquired women is that, in our country, such an

                                                                                                                    Fig. 6
















The opinion of the majority of the inquired women is that, in our country, such an adequate juridical framework exists, and the opposite opinion in this sense is only registered below the percentage of 26%.

However, a noticeable answer (indicated by the majority of the respondents) 46%  of the women, who expressed their opinion in our questionnaire, is that  they do not realise that an adequate juridical framework exists, probably because they do not have much information regarding this subject (they are uninformed).

The existence of barriers regarding education, at a quantitative level (mainly regarding the large number of barriers for educational opportunities for women) was another countenance targeted in our research, from which it resulted that only 20.5% of our respondents said that there are gender barriers, which they have encountered, in comparison to the experience of their male counterparts. This is how the situation of the questioned women appears – question: “Do you consider that women encounter more barriers in education than men, in today`s Romania?


                                                                                                                                    Fig. 7


The questionnaire has aimed also the categorisation of the foremost barriers perceived by the interrogated women, who said that there are educational gender barriers, which they experience, in comparison to the diametric situation of men (the proportion of 24.6% of the inquired women). Such barriers, in the order of their proportion of identification by women, have been reflected in Table 3:

Table 3



1. Women are more exposed to being rejected in case of the reoccupation of a previously had job, owing to work-interruption (for motives connected to child-raising, or other motives such as: illness, factory closure, study leave, etc.)


2. Women are more exposed to being rejected when searching for the first job (barriers caused by the effective access to the labour market (barriers for the first-job occupation)


3.  Women take part in fewer on-going professional training courses, on a lifelong basis, for different reasons (regarding: family, incomes, outmoded mentalities, etc.)


4. Women are more exposed to a lower level of schooling, for different reasons (they are more exposed to illiteracy, school dropout, more exposed to school graduation at a lower level of schooling: elementary school, or, at most, high school)


5. The parents or other people choose, instead of the woman, the proper age for school graduation and/or for starting work and even the workplace (barriers in the selection of the professional and educational paths)


6. Other barriers to which women are exposed



Another issue regarding the on-going training refers to “not mastering a foreign language as a potential barrier for a woman”. The results concerning such an issue are shown in the below figure – question: “Do you consider that not mastering a foreign language is a potential barrier for a woman?





                                                                                                            Fig. 8




















Home-internet represents, in its absence, a serious barrier, which the respondents are very conscious of.  As such, 88.6% of the respondents have home-internet (of whom 81.5% also use it) and they all declare that there are cases where the Internet can be a potential barrier for a woman, in cases such as: when they do not have Internet access (11.4%), when they do not have the least knowledge for using a PC (7.1%), as well as in other cases (1.0%).

Regarding the question: “How many hours do you assign to fulfil family responsibilities (for instance: laundry, groceries, cooking, taking care of the house and children-education and other chores)?” – see the following answers[8]:

Table 4

The number of hours assigned to family responsibilities


1. One hour, maximum two per day


2. Three or four hours per day


3. Five or six hours per day


4. Six or seven hours per day


5. Over eight hours daily


6. Non-answer



The respondent women declare that, in the majority of cases, in fulfilling family responsibilities they are often helped by their husband and/or other family members (48.8%), in comparison to the situation where the help is rare or inexistent (51.2%).

As to the opinion of the inquired women regarding the special case of young women, who are confronted with more problems than the elderly ones, the following aspects have emerged as more important: 34.4% declare that the biggest problem of today’s young women is the fact that “they do not have a job” (they use the most part of the incomes of their parents and/or relatives); 30.6% say that another big problem of the young women is that “they do not have a home of their own” (they live in the same house as their parents and/or their relatives’); 22.1% think that another problem of young women is due to the fact that “they do not have the material (familial) possibilities to graduate from the desired university programme”; 9.2% consider that another issue of young women refers to the fact that “they are compelled to go abroad” (in order to provide for themselves and their families); 4.7% say that “the lack of sufficient leisure-time places” could also be of importance; 3.3% consider that the heaviest problem for young women is the fact that “they cannot marry (as they cannot provide for their new family)”; 3.2% bring into the limelight the fact that young women “cannot afford to have children” (for the same reason for which they cannot marry); finally, 0.8% say that other problems that impede women from getting by in life make them perform great efforts, with limited resources in today’s Romania.


            The violence of men towards women has represented another key-problem in the sociological research of the inquired women. Here are their answers to this question: “Did you ever suffer an aggression from a man?” – see table 5 results.

Table 5

Answer items


Yes, within the family (from a husband or a friend)


Yes, in the family (from the part of the parents)


Yes, in the family (from the part of other people: relatives, close and distant acquaintances)


Yes, on the street (from the part of a stranger and other unknown people)


Yes, at work (from the part of a boss: sexual harassment, threats)


Yes, at work (from the part of a colleague, or of several colleagues)


Yes, at work  (from the part of a female colleague, or other female colleagues


Yes, in other places (from the part of other people)


No, nowhere, by no-one, ever


Anyone anytime in his life has had this problem



If we are to take into consideration the 1,544 women (70%) who declared that they were not confronted with any kind of aggression, it results that almost a third of the women from the six regions have still experienced an aggression during their lifetime (30%), which represents a worrisome percentage.

The way in which the 30% (661 women), who have experienced such an unpleasant situation, embraces diverse modalities. We offer in the following “the main instruments used for combating discrimination”: only 8.6 % declare that they have addressed in writing a specialized institution (the Police, the Prosecuting Magistracy, the National Council for Combating Discrimination, etc.); 4.9% say that they have informed the media; 4.0% said that they have turned to counselling services; 2.0% say that they have used the green-line; 1.1% have submitted in writing remonstrations or have conducted street protests; 2.9% have taken part in public meetings; out of the 2,205 women, 1,585 (71.9%) did not make any remark, which goes to show that they have not turned to any of the instruments regarding the fight against discrimination.

            A different matter discussed regards the possible family conflicts because of the low incomes earned by the woman, in comparison to the ones gained by the man, within the family framework.

            For the question: “Has the husband/friend/or any of the parents ever expressed any reproach regarding the loose financial contribution, in comparison to his?”, the answers have shown that only a quarter of the female respondents would answer affirmatively, in this case (yes – 12,7%, sometimes – 17,5%, no – 69,8%).

            However, the lopsided contribution of the female to the household chores and to the raising of children is augmented, in comparison to the contribution of the male, a feature underlined from the answers connected to the topic.


At the question “Do you personally think that you have more duties regarding the household chores and children-raising than any other family member?” the results are listed in figure 9 below.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Fig. 9


















Considering the data we have obtained from our research, we identified the existence of the prejudice which says that “the husband should be the main breadwinner”. Thus, 92.7% of women stated this, against only 7.3% who didn’t agree with this prejudice.

            We also encountered the difficulty to analyse the unpleasant problem of the divorce, even though it wasn’t a constant issue for our sample group, obtaining a rate of 16.5%. In our next general report, we shall deepen this aspect.

            Women’s access to diverse socio-occupational positions represented another aspect that we analysed in our study, although 85.2% of them stated that the access to these positions wasn’t restricted. However, we can’t ignore the 27 women (14.8%) who said that, in their community, the equal access to these positions is denied. The main positions they indicated were: mayor, deputy, priest, director and others occupations related to constructions or heavy industry.

            Their predilection for a certain role in accordance with the dynamics of the modern and post-modern social life was another point of interest in our research.

            The question “How do you place yourself in a world which is highly heterogenic from a cultural point of view and where the duties and the tasks fulfilled by women have a pronounced dynamics?” was answered as we can see in the following table:


Table 6

Answer items


I prefer to be a mother and a wife in a traditional world


I prefer to be an employee and a citizen in a modern world


I prefer to be a customer and to take part in the contemporary culture,                                 in the post-modern world



            The fact that they prefer the duties and the tasks of an “employee” and of a “citizen”, which are characteristic to the past century, shows that they are placing themselves into a position which is common for the communities of the six regions which are denying the new roles of the post-modern world.

Another important aspect focuses, this time, on another ethnical group in the Romanian society of our days, and on the cultural boundaries, especially in the case of the Rroma people, but not limited to them.

However, it is worth noting that only a third of the women acknowledged the existence of some cultural boundaries with an ethnic or racial background, even if they didn’t support their beliefs with concrete examples (74%).

Some gender borders specific to the post-modern world may have their origins in the sexual orientations of some women (lesbians). Considering this aspect, it is worth noticing that there is a majority of women who said that “it is their own business” (50.6%), compared to those who said they are “totally against it” (29%) and to those who were on the fence (20.4%).

A similar situation is that of the women who adopt a child, declaring themselves as a couple: “it is their own business” (44.7%), “totally against it” (28.6%) and to the ones who were on the fence (26.5%).

As stated in a methodological affirmation at the beginning of this presentation, we also analysed the hypothesis that the recent structural or regional economic crisis (in Romania) did more damage to women than to men, because of different facts, among which the layoffs should be ranked as the top most likely cause.

Verifying this hypothesis, we came to the conclusion that they didn’t prove right, in the sense that the women who were investigated didn’t perceive the existence of a different situation. Just 21.7% perceived the difference against the 52.1% who denied this situation and the 26.2% who declared that they cannot express themselves because they don’t know the situation.

The health status of the women who were investigated didn’t pose a big problem in the 6 regions: 45% declared themselves “perfectly healthy”, 51.2% have “few health problems (I don’t have anything serious)” and just 3.8% declared that they have “big health problems (noncontagious chronic diseases, HIV infection, or different acute diseases that make them vulnerable in case of a potential employment that they may be faced with)”.

It is surprising that, when asked “Do you think that through a training program, as the FEMINIS project, your chances of employment or career advancement would increase?”, the number of women who said they cannot determine at this time whether in this way their chances would increase (and therefore they do not intend to enrol in a training program) is overwhelming, in a proportion of 59.2%, against the affirmative answer, which got 31.4% and the negative one only 9.4%).

In this study we also researched the perception of women on the role played by state institutions in ensuring equality of women and in fighting discrimination. Thus, to the question To what extent do you think that public institutions involved in ensuring equality of women with men are useful?”, the responses were:




                                                                                                                   Fig. 10


















The following question continues the previous one: “Which state institution, listed below, do you think is the most effective in fighting discrimination in public institutions?”

                                                                                                         Fig. 11


The responses of the surveyed women proved that they are aware that the NCCD and the justice have the highest efficiency among public institutions in ensuring non-discrimination in Romania.

Through this field investigation sources of information about the most reliable discrimination for women were also subject to interrogation and identification: the credibility ranking, as resulted from the surveyed women, if we consider only the percentage allocated to rank I is as follows: First place. Media (central and local) – 44.2%; Place II. Internet - 15.1%; Third place. NGOs – 14.6%; Place IV. Friends, colleagues or family members – 9.5%; Place V. Government and Other institutions of the central government – 8.9%; Place VI. Local government institutions – 1.8%; Place VII. Political Parties – 1.0%.

We interviewed women that take part in the study and if they know of the existence of an institution that receives complaints regarding discrimination against women. In this regard, we found that only 22.1% were aware of the existence of such an institution (in this case the National Council for Combating Discrimination - NCCD) against 77.9% of all women who knew nothing about the NCCD.

Another important question was the following: “Do you believe that the following aspects constitute problems due to which vulnerable groups have difficulties in finding jobs - to which we obtained the responses shown in Table 7. 


Table 7



1. Lack of education / insufficient education


2. Lack of relevant work experience


3. Lack of skills / inadequate qualifications


5. Insufficient help from the state


6. Lack of suitable jobs in the labour market


7. Discrimination based on age



            The last two questions in the questionnaire referred to the problem of unemployment for women looking for a job (23.8% of them being in this situation).

            The way in which these women in search of a job, according to their statements, answered is shown in Table 8.

Table 8

Answer items


Were registered at the County Agency for Employment


Followed in the media the announcements of job offers


Participated in interviews and employment contests


Responded to advertisements for job offers


Contacted private recruitment companies


They issued an advertising searching for a job


They asked parents, relatives, friends or colleagues to help them find a job


They sent a job application directly to employers






This general preliminary report aims to foreshadow the general trends of gender barriers from the six regions of Romania investigated by sociological tools. Certainly, the next general preliminary report and especially the final one will show the actual configuration of gender discrimination in Romania, all the more so since the questions in questionnaires and interviews and focus groups insistently monitored various types of gender barriers.

From the present study a first firm conclusion emerges, namely that for the most part, employed women do not regard themselves as discriminated in Romania, in terms of level of pay as compared to men in similar working conditions; but when it comes to promotion at work the proportion becomes higher, but neither in this case it is not predominant (more than a third of them believes that the promotion is made on criteria other than merit, such as political adhesion, relations with the boss, backstairs influence, nepotism etc.). There is a relatively equal distribution as regards the ratio of men versus women in top-management positions in the economic entities of the 6 regions. The ratio poor women - middle class women - rich women in the case of the respondents to our survey shows a huge disproportion between the rich and the poor one, mitigated by a higher proportion of middle class women (the percentage of the 3 categories of persons in terms of revenue is of 66.0% – 31.7% – 2.3%. According to most surveyed women, in our country there is an appropriate legal framework and the contrary opinion is in this regard scores below 26%. It is also worth noting the answer (majority) of the 46% of women who state they are not aware that there is an adequate legal framework, probably because they do not know many things about it (are ill informed); we have also found that 6% of those who complain of discrimination refer mainly to the rejection of a first job (barriers determined by the effective access in the labour market entry to a first job).

Almost a quarter of the surveyed women admit the existence of various gender barriers that hinder their education compared to men (over 8.4% declare they are more exposed to a low schooling degree, for various reasons, i.e. they are more exposed to illiteracy or dropout, more vulnerable to graduating a school of a lower level: secondary school or maximum high school). Mastering a foreign language and the Internet at home are, versus their absence, serious barriers for women who are aware of this and who were asked their opinion. Also, 88.6% of them have home-Internet (and among these 81.5% do use it). Young women are a special case because they are faced with more problems than the older ones; thus, our study found that 34.4% of the investigated women said that the most important problem of young women is the fact that theydo not have a job”, which leads them to use part of their parents’ income and / or their relatives’). Almost a third of the women from the six regions experienced an aggression in their lifetime (30%), which is an alarming rate; the way they reacted when having to face such an unpleasant situation is very diverse, but only 8.6% said they had informed in writing a specialised institution (the police, prosecutors, the National Council for Combating Discrimination, etc.).

In general, the women investigated in the 6 regions say they are not accused that their contribution to the family’s income is lower than the husband’s (only 12.7% of the cases); instead, women’s disproportionate contribution to household activities and childcare is greater than the man’s, an aspect which emerged from the responses related to this issue (41.9%). Female respondents stated, in most cases, that in fulfilling family responsibilities they are often aided by their husband and / or family members, against the case when the aid comes seldom or never. We identified through research the existence of the prejudice that “the husband should be the main breadwinner in a family (92.7% of the women declared this, compared to only 7.3% who disagreed with this bias). 84,9% of the women believe that women’s access to various socio-occupational positions is not restricted; however, the 14,8% of the women who deny equal access to these positions in their communities is not to be ignored and who specify these occupations: Mayor and Deputy Mayor, priest, director, and occupations in fields like constructions or heavy industry.

The preference for the roles and tasks ofemployed person and citizen” specific to the last century reveals a self-positioning that characterises, in fact, whole communities from the 6 regions that stand out by the refusal of the new roles of the post-modern world, as consumer and participant in contemporary culture. The female respondents are aware that the highest efficiency among public institutions in ensuring non-discrimination in Romania is to be found in the National Council for Combating Discrimination and justice (although only 22,1% knew about the existence of this institution against 77,9% of all women who knew nothing about NCCD). The main problem because of which vulnerable groups among women encounter difficulties in finding a job is the lack of education / not enough education”. Women in search of a job (23.8%in this case) apply mostly to the County Agency for Employment (over 70%).




BETTIO, Francesca, CORSI, Marcella D’IPPOLITI, Carlo, LYBERAKI, Antigone, SAMEK LODOVICI, Manuela, VERASHCHAGINA Alina, The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Situation of Woman and Man and on Gender Equality  Policies, European Commission – Directorate-General for Justice, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2013.

BOTTI, Fabrizio, CORSI, Marcella, D’IPPOLITI, Carlo, “The Gendered Nature of Multidimensional Poverty in the European Union”, CEB Working Paper No. 12/026, Université Libre de Bruxelles – Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management Centre Emile Bernheim, 2012.

BRADSHAW, Jonathan, MAYHEW, Emese, The Measurement of Extreme Poverty in The European Union, Social Policy Research Unit The University of York, 2011.

BUSSE, Matthias, SPIELMANN, Christian, “Gender Discrimination and the International Division of Labour”, Working Paper, HWWA Discussion Paper, No. 245. Available at

GRÜNBERG, Laura (ed.), Discriminarea multiplă în România, I.N.C.S.M.P.S., Bucureşti, 2008.

HAUKSDÓTTIR, Eydís, Gender Discrimination in The European Union, Equal Pay For Work of Equal Value, Sexual Harassment, Derogations from The Ban on Discrimination, Aarhus School of Business, 2008.

PAŞNICU, Daniela, ZAMAN, Gheorghe, MLADEN, Luise, BARBĂLATĂ Ştefan, POPA, Emil; COCOŞATU, Mădălina), Diferenţele bazate pe gen în ceea ce priveşte profesiile, cariera şi veniturile, Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, Bucureşti, 2011.

PITTMAN, Alexandra, ARUTYUNOVA, Angelika, VIDAL DEGIORGIS, Verónica, SHAW Amanda, “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?”, paper presented at the Resource Mobilization Hub 12th AWID International Forum, Istanbul, Turkey, 19 April, 2012.

*** Percepţii şi atitudini faţă de fenomenul de discriminare din România, CURS S.A., 2005.

*** Fenomenul discriminării în România, percepţii şi atitudini, Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminării, Bucureşti, 2009.

*** Youth Employment: Braking Gender Barriers for Young Women and Men, 2014, available at

*** Eurobarometer, Inequalities and Multiple Discrimination in Access to And Quality of Healthcare European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg 2014,.


[1] Francesca BETTIO et al., The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Situation of Woman and Man and on Gender Equality  Policies, European Commission – Directorate-General for Justice, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.

[2] BOTTI, CORSI, D’IPPOLITI, The Gendered Nature of Multidimensional Poverty in the European Union, 2012; BRADSHAW, MAYHEW, The Measurement of Extreme Poverty in The European Union, 2011.

[3] Youth Employment: Braking Gender Barriers for Young Women and Men, ILO, Youth Employment, 2014. Available at:

[4] Eydís HAUKSDÓTTIR, Gender Discrimination in The European Union, Equal Pay For Work of Equal Value, Sexual Harassment, Derogations from The Ban on Discrimination, Aarhus School of Business, 2008.

[5] Laura GRÜNBERG (ed.), Multiple Discrimination in Romania, National Scientific Research Institute in the Field of Labour and Social Welfare – I.N.C.S.M.P.S., Bucharest and the Society for Feminist Analyses, 2008.

[6] Fenomenul discriminării în România, percepţii şi atitudini, Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminării Bucureşti, 2009.

[7] To have a relevant comparison, we note that the study prepared by a group of researchers for another SOPHRD project in 2011 called “Gender-based differences as to professions, career and income”, only 30.9% of the women said they were less well paid than men against 69.1% who said they received the same remuneration in equal conditions (PAŞNICU, BARBĂLATĂ, POPA and COCOŞATU, Diferenţele bazate pe gen în ceea ce priveşte profesiile, cariera şi veniturile, Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, Bucureşti 2001, p. 87).

[8] To compare the situation in the above-mentioned SOPHRD study, where the number of hours assigned to the family responsibilities, in the case of women inquired at a national level, has a different configuration: 1-2 hours – 3.9%; 3-4 hours – 20.3%; 5-6 hours – 18.7%; 7-8 hours – 12.5%; over 8 hours – 16.0% (PAŞNICU et al., Diferenţelecit., p. 8).


[i] Matthias BUSSE, Christian SPIELMANN, “Gender Discrimination and the International Division of Labour”, Working Paper, HWWA Discussion Paper, No. 245, 2003. Accessed from, on July 2, 2014.

[ii] Convention ILO no. 100 was issued in 1925, Convention no. 111 ILO was issued in 1958, both against gender discrimination.