Gender pay gap in Ireland has widened over last five years
State ranks 25th in 2015 Women in Work Index for ‘female economic empowerment’
Gender gap: Irish boardrooms have an 18 per cent female participation rate, compared to 22 per cent in the UK, 34 per cent in France and 16 per cent in the US. Illustration: Getty
The pay gap between men and women in Ireland is 6.5 percentage points wider than it was in 2012, according to new figures.
The divide narrowed slightly between 2014 and 2015 but Ireland continues to hold a ranking of 25th place on an international league table of overall female economic empowerment.
A report published on Tuesday found that in 2015 Ireland had a 14.8 per cent difference in median pay between men and women.
That figure has declined steadily from 19.7 per cent in 2000. However, statistics show it hit a low of 8.3 per cent in 2012 before rising to 15.2 per cent in 2014.
The current Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, according to latest available figures for 2015, is 16 per cent even in situations where women are more qualified.
The data, which focuses on female workforce participation, and particularly how their roles and remunerations compare to male counterparts, has been published by PwC.
In the UK, which had an overall pay disparity of 16.9 per cent in 2015, Northern Ireland had the smallest difference on a regional basis (6 per cent).
In the boardroom
Irish boardrooms have an 18 per cent female participation rate, compared to 22 per cent in the UK, 34 per cent in France and 16 per cent in the US.
The proportion of women directors in Ireland actually dipped between 2000 and 2013 (from 10 to 9 per cent) before starting to rise in 2014.
The 2015 Women in Work Index shows gradual progress toward greater “female economic empowerment” across the OECD.
It is a weighted average of various measures including equality of earnings, the ability of women to access employment opportunities and job security.
However, Ireland is on the right track. Analysis shows that, based on the current rate of convergence in the pay gap, it could be entirely closed within 20 years.
That compares to a 50-year span for most countries, including the UK, and 100 years for others including the US. Still others, such as Germany and Spain, lag further behind and may take up to 300 years to achieve parity at current rates of progress.
According to PwC, the potential long-term economic gains across the OECD from an increase in women in work would boost GDP by almost $6 trillion.
“In this day and age it seems unconscionable that women are still paid relatively less than men,” the report notes.
“Inequality starts at a young age: a UK survey by Halifax shows that boys get 13 per cent more pocket money than girls. Today the average working woman in the OECD still earns 16 per cent less than her male counterpart, despite becoming better qualified.”
PwC says the political and business community can do more to tighten the gap and bring about equilibrium. In particular it cites access to affordable childcare and shared parental leave on the policy end while employers could make working options more flexible.
In the UK, the largest disparity in pay is found in the financial services sector (34 per cent). The gap is 23 per cent in professional and technical services, 20 per cent in construction, 15 per cent in education and drops to 12 per cent in administration and support services.