Women in workplace twice as likely to face discrimination as men, study finds

Women are twice as likely as men to face discrimination at work, research has revealed.

Amid calls for Independent Alliance minister John Halligan to resign for asking a female civil servant in a job interview if she was married, new analysis has found issues of pay and promotion for women are frequently raised.

Leading think tank the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said almost one in eight people in Ireland reported some experience of discrimination over the preceding two years.

Mr Halligan, Minister of State for Training and Skills who is currently in Thailand on Government business, was on an interview panel to select a new private secretary in May 2016.

He asked a candidate with 23 years experience if she was married and had children. He also said he knew he should not be asking the questions.

Later, after taking a case to the Workplace Relations Commission, she said felt the questions were unfair and inappropriate.

She won her case and is being paid 7,500 euro compensation by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The research on discrimination, published by the ESRI and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, was based on data on 15,000 adults held by the Central Statistics Office.

The analysis showed that Travellers face the worst discrimination and they are almost 10 times more likely than the white Irish people to be discriminated against when looking for work.

They are also 22 times more likely to experience discrimination in access to private services, the report found.

Lead author Frances McGinnity, of the ESRI, said: "Discrimination can be damaging to the individuals who experience it, in terms of their self-esteem, well-being and for their material outcomes such as their income and access to valued positions and services.

"There are also costs at a societal level. Discrimination in the labour market may be economically inefficient, as the skills of individuals are not effectively used. Discrimination can also undermine social cohesion."

The study also found people with a disability are more than twice as likely to be discriminated against at work, in recruitment and in accessing public and private services.

The ESRI said black people in Ireland are three times more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace and in access to public services, and over four times more likely to experience discrimination in access to private services.

People aged 45-64 are more likely than younger people to experience discrimination when looking for work, the report said.

And it also found that never-married lone parents are more likely to experience discrimination in public and private services than unmarried adults with no children.

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