For every €1 men in Ireland earn, women earn 86 cent.
That is the scale of the gender pay gap in Ireland, where women are more likely than men to earn less, work in part-time or casual jobs, and be more impacted by caring responsibilities.
The 14% gender pay gap stems from the fact that women take time out to care, hold fewer senior positions, and predominantly work in lower paid or temporary jobs.
Across Europe women are overrepresented in frontline, low-paid, and precarious jobs, such as carers for the elderly and children, nurses, cleaning staff, shop assistants and teachers.
That situation is reflected in Ireland, according to Liz Kiely, co-chair of the Board of Women’s Studies at UCC, who said women and men have been stereotyped and conditioned by society to assume traditional roles.
The model where men are the ‘breadwinners’ in the home is outdated, she said, adding that traditional roles must be further disrupted to enhance gender equality.
Gender equality was more firmly embedded in many Nordic countries, she said, adding that some provided incentives for men to work in childcare.
“The more we disrupt traditional gender stereotypical roles, the more both men and women will see that it’s possible to do this type of work and the more it will become acceptable in society,” said Dr Kiely.
We need to think of every individual, regardless of their gender, as a carer-worker and how can we work that into our labour market policy.
Dr Kiely said employers must also respond by providing greater flexibility to both women and men to manage work and home life while also ensuring it will not impact negatively on their future career or promotional prospects.
More women than men work part-time and in precarious and casual jobs and are likely to be more impacted by a lack of security.
“The direction that work is going, the gig economy, the much more flexible labour market, it doesn’t work for an awful lot of people and it doesn’t work well for women,” said Dr Kiely. “I think they certainly end up worse off in that situation.
“There has to be flexibility with security but I think our labour market is tilting towards much more flexibility but without the security and that’s a problem.”
Greater transparency around salaries, she said, would help to narrow the gender pay gap, something that Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman is hoping to progress this year.
Gender Pay Gap legislation requiring employers to publish pay differences between men and women, including any bonuses, is expected to be made into law this year.
The requirement will initially apply to organisations with 250 or more employees but will extend over time to organisations with 50 or more employees.
“It is hoped that transparency around this important subject will build awareness within companies and the wider public of the gender pay gap and to take steps to address the gender pay parity,” a spokesperson for the Department said.
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NCWI), however, said the gender pay gap was further compounded by the pension gap women face on retirement.
“By the time women come to pension age, they don’t have private pensions, some are not entitled to the full contributory pension because they have taken time out to care or they were working in low paid employment,” said NCWI director Orla O’Connor.