SFA director Patricia Callan said private-sector firms did not operate under the same rigid pay scales as the public sector and “market forces at the time of employment will determine salary”.
“It is more a case of ‘we need somebody to do X and Y at this particular time and are willing to pay Z’, meaning that salaries end up unaligned, depending on when in the economic cycle you were hired,” said Ms Callan.
The study, by recruitment firm Morgan McKinley, also found, in firms where bonuses are paid, women’s bonuses are on average 50% less than men. Ms Callan said this gap reflected how “men tend to be better at negotiating” and can be more bullish about pay rises.
The report also found the gap between men’s and women’s pay grew as their time in the workplace increased. Women with up to five years experience earn 12% less, while women with 15 years experience earn as much as 28% less than their male colleagues.
However, of the professionals with 15 or more years of experience, just 38% are women.
Ms Callan said many women perform well in the workplace until they have a number of children, but then “choose to step back”.
“Despite what Sheryl Sandberg has called for, they are not leaning in when they need to be,” she said.
“It’s about far more than working 9-5pm or 9-7pm in the higher-paid roles, it’s about networking, travelling, entertaining clients after hours and many women make a decision that they can’t do that,” she said.
Figures show the financial services sector is the worst sector for gender pay gaps, with a 29% disparity recorded. Technology and professional services have the most narrow gap of 3%-8%. The lowest pay gap was in Big Data, accounting and the audit sector. In engineering, the pay gap stands at 18%.
The study found across the board, on average women earn €12,500 less than men.
The salary data of more than 5,500 professionals across a number of sectors was gathered as part of the survey.