Men are twice as likely as women to be employed in senior and middle management roles, new research revealed today.
Even though almost 300,000 women joined the workforce between 1998 and 2007, the so-called glass ceiling in business has kept the majority of them in the lower ranks.
Researchers also revealed a new phenomenon in previously male- dominated professions, which become more attractive to women after an increase in female staff, creating “career tipping points”.
Renee Dempsey, Equality Authority chief executive, said: “This research demonstrates that we are still some way from achieving gender equality in the labour market.
“As a society we need to constantly renew our efforts to ensure equal treatment for women and men in all aspects of employment and to support men and women to positively reconcile work and family life.”
The report by the Economic and Social Research Institute revealed:
:: The female share of employment increased from 37% to 42% in 10 years to 2006;
:: In 2007, two out of three women were active in the labour market;
:: The amount of managerial and executive posts employing women went up from 32% to 42% – one of the top three largest increases in female share over the decade;
:: Women in An Garda Siochana increased from 8% to 19%;
:: At-work mothers of pre-school children went up from 54% to 60%;
:: A higher percentage of women in public sector have a management or supervisory role.
But researcher Claire Keane warned that increases may be due to an overall increase in demand rather than occupations opening up to women or becoming more appealing to women.
In addition, the report revealed that women’s personal choices were also a major player in the gender divide in jobs.
“It’s not just about discrimination. It’s people’s choice in one way,” Ms Keane said.
“For example local government may be more family-friendly. It may not just be discrimination but women are choosing to go into this area as they have family-friendly policies.”
The finding is supported by figures from the OECD which show Ireland has the highest childcare costs as a proportion of earnings across 26 countries.
Dr Helen Russell, one of the study’s authors, said: “Women have made significant inroads into a number of previously male-dominated occupations, but segregation by gender remains a strong feature of the Irish labour market.
“Comparisons across Europe suggest that Ireland falls into the group with the highest segregation alongside the UK, the Netherlands and Finland.”
“Right now, in a context where our future as a society is naturally driven by economic debate, it is essential that we do not lose sight of the economic and social benefits of equality – in the labour market and in society as a whole.”