Gender wage gap is widest in manufacturing


URGENT action is needed to close the gender wage gap in manufacturing industry, the chief executive of the Employment Equality Agency, Ms Carmel Foley, told an ICTU seminar.

While Irish women earn 80 per cent of male rates on average, in manufacturing this drops to 68 per cent of the male rate. Mr Tim Callan of the Economic and Social Research Institute, who presented the figures to the seminar on equal pay yesterday, said manufacturing sectors in Ireland and the UK had the biggest pay gaps in the EU.

Women in manufacturing earn 90 per cent of the male rate in Sweden and 84 per cent in most other EU states. Only the US and Japan show similar a discrimination against female industrial workers. Women earned 69 per cent of the male rate in the US and 49 per cent in Japan.

Large scale female participation in professions like teaching pushed average female earnings up to 80 per cent of male rates, Mr Callan said. The main underlying cause of pay differentials was that women did not usually have as much service as men. This was due in large part to a lack of child care facilities.

In Sweden the high earnings reflected a system that allowed women a year's paid maternity leave without losing seniority at work. In Ireland women were absent from the labour market for five to 15 years because of child care responsibilities. But Irish women who managed to remain at work for 25 years or more earned 6 per cent more on average than male earnings.

The ICTU equality officer, Ms Rosaleen Glacken said a new survey of women's earnings was being conducted under Partnership 2000.