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95% of Italian men have never unloaded a clothes washer, and 4 other reasons Italian women can’t shake Berlusconi

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, right, greets unidentified workers at the opening of the construction works for the Brescia, Bergamo, Milano (BREBEMI) highway, in Urago d'Oglio near Brescia, Italy, Wednesday, July 22, 2009. Berlusconi has joked that he is "no saint'' as he remains entangled in a sex scandal over his alleged encounters with young women, including a high-class prostitute. The comments, which came during a ceremony in northern Italy, were Berlusconi's first reference to the scandal since the recordings were released.
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
Keeping jobs among the menfolk.
By Gwynn Guilford
euro zonePublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

They also live in a country where 70% of the men have never operated an oven, as the UK’s The Telegraph reports—and 95% have never unloaded a washing machine. Taking that into account, the resurgent popularity of Silvio Berlusconi, one of the world’s virtuoso chauvinists, is somewhat less surprising.

The attitudes typified by Berlusconi’s sleaze have real-world impact, though. Italy’s female employment rate is only 46%—just shy of twelve percentage points below the EU average, according to OECD data. Here’s a look at how Italy’s employment rate differential compares with other countries in Europe and the euro zone average, according to OECD data:

As is usually the case, a good deal of the bleak outlook for women is due to the lack of support services for childcare and provisions for maternity leave (link in Italian), among other things.

Maybe that will soon change, though. While there are scores of reasons to lament the outcome of Italy’s elections, here’s one reason for cheer: The new Italian parliament has more women then ever in its history. Some 32% of Italy’s lower house will be women, from 21%. In the senate, meanwhile, 30% will be women, compared with 19%. Times might finally be a-changin’.

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