Lenka Simerská is head of the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ Project 22% EQUALITY, which aims to eliminate the gender pay gap. She spoke with Dinah Richter Spritzer about the Czech Republic’s long-standing struggle to narrow the gap, which is among the worst in the European Union. In 2019 the Czech Republic ranked 21st of 28 countries in the EU in gender inequality and declined to 23rd in 2020. Why are men in the Czech Republic paid 20 percent more than women in terms of gross hourly earnings? Before I answer, you should know that the numbers just changed. We had the third highest gender pay gap in the E.U., but now we’re fifth. But nothing really changed in terms of the bigger problem. The government raised the level of pay for teachers, for social workers and for health care workers to keep up with the private sector. These professions are mostly occupied by women. So this raised women’s pay in general. So this isn’t indicative of a change in the society or a change in how private companies are behaving? Exactly. The Czech gender pay gap still has the same dynamic. Parents still make the same economic decisions in terms of who stays home, who takes care of the children, whose career and ambitions must be sacrificed.