Last week, Paris City Hall received a €90,000 fine for appointing too many women to senior positions, a decision that drew strong criticism from Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
The fine was issued by the public service ministry for failing to achieve gender balance in 2018. That year, 11 women and five men were appointed as directors and deputy directors, respectively.
“This very high figure is a major contributor to the increase in the number of women in senior management and executive positions," a report from the French Ministry of Civil Service states. "However, it does not meet the legal target of a 40% share of appointments of each gender in these posts."
In 2019, a new bill was introduced to waive any penalty related to gender representation, so long as there was no evident imbalance. Currently, women account for 47% of senior management positions within Paris’ city council.
However, since the law does not apply retroactively, the city of Paris received a penalty for failing to comply with the provisions in effect at the time.
While women enjoy a high level of representation in senior positions within the public service in France — a recent report points out that 62% of civil servants are women — they remain at a significant disadvantage in the labor market due to persistent inequalities at other levels, including pay.
According to figures from the European statistics office Eurostat, the average gross salary for French women is 15.5% lower than that of their male counterparts.
As of March, women also held only 17.7% of management positions in the top 40 publicly traded companies, according to Capital.
11 femmes, 5 hommes... La Ville de Paris a été condamnée à 90.000 euros d'amende parce que trop de femmes directrices ont été nommées.— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) December 15, 2020
Avec mes adjointes, les directrices et les présidentes de groupe, nous irons donc porter ce chèque à la Ministre de la Fonction publique. pic.twitter.com/yMDAeH86eS
Hidalgo criticized the decision with a touch of sarcasm.
"The management of the city hall has, all of a sudden, become far too feminist," she said, according to the BBC. "This fine is obviously absurd. It is unfair, irresponsible, dangerous.”
"We must promote women with determination and rigor because we're still lagging far behind everywhere in France. We need to pick up the pace and ensure that we're appointing more women than men," she added, noting that she was more than happy to pay the fine.