Gender equality measures must apply at all levels of the education system, including the curriculum and teacher training, so as to end gender stereotyping and help close the gap between women’s education and their professional development, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs also call for more investment to ensure that everyone can benefit from high-quality public education.

The resolution was approved by 408 votes to 236, with 40 abstentions.

Rapporteur Liliana Rodrigues(S&D, PT) said: "We are still living in an unequal Europe. Progress has been made, but women continue to be a prime target for discrimination and violence. I believe that school plays a fundamental role in changing this state of affairs. My report aims to ensure the equality and empowerment of girls through education, comply with the Istanbul Convention as a tool to prevent gender discrimination, create a school culture of gender equality, critically oversee the curricula and educational materials, ensure gender equality with regard to personal and professional decisions and improve the percentage of women in positions of responsibility and in senior positions.

Closing the gap between women’s education and professional development

Even though women now make up the majority (60%) of higher education graduates in the EU, they are still less paid for their qualifications than men and are underrepresented in management positions, science and engineering. To encourage more women to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics, MEPs call for equal access measures and the use of information and communication technologies from pre-school education onwards.

Abolishing gender stereotypes and boosting self-confidence

Stereotyping and sexism remain the greatest obstacles to achieving gender equality, says the text. Parliament reiterates its call to combat gender stereotypes, which can affect self-image and the decisions made by girls and boys through formal and informal education at all educational levels.

Members call on EU member states to encourage girls and boys to take an equal interest in all subjects beyond gendered stereotypes, stressing the role of positive female role models in schools, universities and science.

Foster relationships based on respect and reciprocity

Gender education should be a part of the curriculum and school programmes and teaching materials should not contain discriminatory content, stereotypes or sexism say MEPs. To promote stereotype-free education, teachers should receive training on equality and curricula and educational materials should be critically reviewed, they add.

Furthermore, Member states could consider making age-appropriate sex and relationship education compulsory in all primary and secondary school curricula, to teach girls and boys about relationships based on consent, respect and reciprocity, MEPs suggest.

To combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, MEPs urge the Commission to support the inclusion of objective information on LGBTI issues in school curricula. to fight gender-based violence, discrimination, harassment, homophobia and transphobia, in all their forms, including cyber-bullying or online harassment, says the text.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution (INI)

Facts Source: Eurostat 
  • 59% of EU graduate students in 2010 were female, but only 20% of EU senior academics were women.  
  • In 2012, only 1 in 10 rectors in Europe were female. 
  • The gender pay gap in 2013 was 16% and pension gap 39% 
  • Women tend to opt for education and health programmes whilst many more men pick engineering, science, mathematics or computing 
  • Three years after graduation, the percentage of men in jobs is higher than that of women