The pay gap in Italy has increased by 2.4 percent in five years, up from 4.9 percent in 2008, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on Thursday.
The negative change goes against the European trend towards greater wage equality, although the EU average remains high at 16.4 percent.
Germany registered one of the worst pay gaps, which fell slightly to 21.6 percent in 2013, while the figure also topped 20 percent in Estonia, Austria and the Czech Republic.
The best place in Europe for working women is Slovenia, with a 3.2 percent gap, but no EU country has achieved full gender pay equality.
— EU_Eurostat (@EU_Eurostat) March 5, 2015
Despite the gap being relatively small in Italy, the country has one of Europe’s worst disparities in hiring.
Whereas 69.8 percent of men in Italy were employed in 2013, the figure stood at 49.9 percent for women.
Italy’s disparity of 19.9 percentage points (pp) is topped only by Malta, where the gap is 29.6 pp, while at the opposite end of the scale Lithuania has a disparity of just 2.6 pp.
Women in Italy are also less likely to have full-time jobs than men, with 31.8 percent of women working part-time compared to 7.4 percent of men.
Female employees also see themselves in lower-level jobs, with women holding 28 percent of managerial positions despite taking 42 percent of total employment.
There has been some change at the top, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi installing a number of women into key ministerial posts such as defence and health. More than 150 years since Italy was unified, however, the country has still not had a female president or prime minister.
Prominent Italian businesswomen who have beaten the odds including Emma Marcegaglia, president of energy company Eni, and Luisa Todini, president of the Italian postal service.