How Brussels came to love women from new members

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Now here is an striking quirk in European Commission recruitment: an institution dominated by men from old member states has taken a shine to women from new ones.

For all its preaching about gender equality, the Commission is conspicuously top heavy with men, particularly when it comes to policymaking jobs (so-called administrators). According to the latest Commission stats, women are outnumbered 45 per cent to 55 per cent; three out of four senior managers are men.

The situation is worse if you look at staff by nationality, especially for longstanding EU members. A meagre 23 per cent of Dutch Commission officials are female, 26 per cent of Belgians, 29 per cent of Brits and 31 per cent of Germans. In the top three civil servant ranks of the Commission, the Dutch ratio of men to women is an extraordinary 31:1.

No doubt the Commission want to see a better gender mix. But it seems the effort to improve the situation is generating some imbalances of its own.

Take a look at the numbers for new member states, who were given dedicated recruitment exams after joining so their Commission numbers could start to catch up with other EU states.

In most cases, the male fonctionnaire is in the minority. Three quarters of Estonian and Latvian staff are women, 71 per cent of Romanians, and around two-thirds of Bulgarians, Slovenians and Lithuanians.

Brussels blog can only hazard a guess at what explains this inflow of women from the Balkans and the Baltic. But the trend is marked and unmistakable — and probably all for the better.

One last quirk: the Swedes, somehow, emerge with immaculate parity, with 165 women and 165 men.

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