Released ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th, the figures revealed that only Estonia is worse than Austria, with Germany and the Czech Republic close behind.
The EU average was 16.4 percent. Austria’s neighbour Slovenia had the lowest pay gap, with less than five percent.
Women tend to be under-represented at managerial level in Austria, and over-represented among clerical support workers. Austria’s Chamber of Labour has called for a quota on the number of women on management and supervisory boards, saying that “you have to use a magnifying glass” to find women in top leadership positions.
The proportion of women on the management boards of Austria’s 200 largest companies is currently only 5.9 percent. Even in industries such as retail, where more women tend to be employed, managerial positions are mostly occupied by men. In the service industry, women occupy 11 percent of managerial positions.
17 percent of women sit on the supervisory boards of Austria’s larger companies - still below the EU average of 20 percent. The Chamber of Labour said it wants to see a quota of 40 percent for women on supervisory boards.
In general, Austria has made a slight improvement since 2008, closing the gender pay gap by two percent.
A report from Statistics Austria, released on Wednesday, showed that women have caught up with men in terms of education and employment in the past decades.
In 2012/13, 58.7 percent of all high school graduates were female. The employment rate of women aged 15 to 64 years rose from 61.6 percent in 2003 to 67.6 percent in 2013 - although this was mostly due to a rise in part-time work.
The majority of women working part time (70.6 percent) have children under 15 years of age.
Lower incomes and differences in employment opportunities for women and men ultimately result in women having smaller pensions and being at a higher risk of poverty.
In 2013, one employed woman out of three in the EU (31.8 percent) worked part-time, compared with fewer than one man out of ten (8.1 percent).