Just 14% of Irish companies have women leaders

New study shows women underrepresented at senior management level

Women occupy a disproportionately low number of managerial roles across organisations in Ireland, according to a new report which finds that those who are in management tend to work in areas requiring so-called ‘soft skills.’

The study, commissioned by 30% Club Ireland in association with DCU and BNY Mellon, reveals that even at the most junior level of management, women only occupy 34 per cent of positions with their representation falling significantly at each subsequent stage up the career ladder.

Senior women managers are most commonly found in HR and marketing roles - areas that are typically seen to require skills such as a high degree of emotional intelligence - rather than in finance, sales, operations or IT.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are more women in leadership positions in companies headed by a female chief executive than a male one, according to the study.


Overall, the survey results reveal a steady decline in female participation in higher ranks of management with just 14 per cent of Irish companies reporting having a female chief executive or head of operations.

While this is low, the study authors stress the figure is likely to be an overestimate, given that the survey was voluntary and organisations heavily invested in gender equality are more likely to respond.

Commercial state/semi-state organisations have the lowest proportion of female executive directors or group managers with none reporting having a woman chief executive or head of operations.

The study also shows larger companies typically have higher female participation in management with mid-sized firms having the lowest proportion of women in leadership roles.

“It is important that business leaders articulate why supporting women in business is a vital competitive issue and reinforce this by how they behave within the leadership team,” said Marie O’Connor, a partner at PwC and the 30% club leader in Ireland.

“Getting this right will enable businesses to attract and retain top talent, enhance innovation and customer satisfaction,” she added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist