And so the pay gap lingers on. Irish women earn 17% less than their male counterparts according to the European Commission study released this week.
With twice as many men earning over €50,000 per annum compared to women, one begins to question the supposed egalitarian environment in which we work.
Thankfully, the narrow minded notion that the woman’s place is in the home has long subsided. However, with the aforementioned news of the gender pay gap, a debate of similar prominence will no doubt resurface. The European Commission which undertook the study cites a myriad of reasons for this gender pay gap, including discrimination against women, undervaluing of women’s skills and a low number of women in senior and leadership positions.
The study also suggests that age demographic impacts the pay gap, with Irish women in their twenties earning approximately 90% of what their male colleagues do; those aged between 35-44 years earn 71.5% of what their male colleagues do, with these figures declining further for women aged in their fifties and sixties.
The study also revealed that there is a greater likelihood for Irish women than men to take low paid work. Sure the old ideologies of being ‘a kept woman’ are acceptable, but ‘a kept man’ severely dints the ego and so ensures the majority of men want to snap up the work in the higher pay bracket (and bring home the bacon!). Sidestepping all egotistical reasons for refusing lower paid work, the minor issue of an economic crisis, fewer job opportunities, and high unemployment rates would suggest that one, gender aside, would take any job should one present itself.
Following the revelation of the 17% gender pay gap in Ireland, Orla O’Connor, Chief Executive of the National Women’s Council said of this: “The gap between women’s and men’s earning needs to be reduced. As the Government persists with its austerity measures, it is vital that actions to improve the position of women in our society are not sidelined.”
President Michael D Higgins, an advocate for progressive change on equal pay for women, alluded to the fact that women outperform men in educational attainment and that the highest percentage of women graduates in Europe are Irish. He also cited that women should be given a greater role in the new economic model that is being built in Ireland to replace the one that has failed. Here, Here Michael!
But the reality of the situation remains, men do earn more than women and the reasons for suggesting they do are pitiful. Both men and women should remain on equal footing on the pay scale. Women left the aprons, dusters and the comfort of the kitchen sink years ago, they are an extremely well educated demographic in Ireland and so their wages should reflect this. They undoubtedly deserve the same pay packet that their male counterparts enjoy.
On a final note, if we revisit our current economic climate, and those responsible for creating this economic crisis, the greed which engulfed the nation, the demise of the banking sector and property market, and those political figures ‘responsible’ for leading our country during that time..... Excuse the generalisation but it may be fitting to point out that the majority of these figures were men! Women have not been afforded the opportunity to fill many key decision making roles where the health and recovery of our economy is concerned. And if these studies are to be believed, men are more expensive to employ; so if the government aren’t willing to tackle the gender pay gap, here’s a suggestion... employ more females in key roles, and save yourself a few quid in the meantime! (Now that’s Budget 2012 sorted and as we’re also deemed the superior gender when it comes to education attainment – I’m sure that’s the economic crisis sorted too... Move over Enda!)
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 4 March 2012