Gender gaps persist ‘in all areas of social and economic life’ - OECD

Gulf between number of men and women working in Ireland up over last four years

The gap between the number of men and women working in Ireland increased over the last five years. Image: iStock.

The gap between the number of men and women working in Ireland increased over the last five years. Image: iStock.

 

The gap between the number of men and women working in Ireland increased over the last five years as more men returned to employment after losing out following the economic crash, a new report finds.

The gender gap grew to almost 11 percentage points (up three points) between 2012 and last year, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study found.

The gap also increased in Estonia, Iceland, Hungary and Spain but it narrowed in most of the 35 OECD countries surveyed.

The report says there was a “substantially sharper rise” in unemployment among men than women in Ireland between 2008 and 2012 due to the loss of construction jobs.

However, the OECD said “men have made substantial gains since 2012” with “women’s relative gains” in the labour market following the economic crash being “lessened”.

Overall, the OECD says the findings present “a stark call to action” for its members.

“In the past five years, countries have made very little progress in reaching gender equality goals,” it says. “Gender gaps persist in all areas of social and economic life and across countries, and the size of these gaps has often changed very little.”

‘Fairly average’

Willem Adema, senior economist at the OECD, said Ireland was doing a “fairly average” job in this area when compared to the rest of the members, which include Australia, the US and Sweden.

“If you look at female share and women in science and education, Ireland is at 37 per cent while the OECD [AVERAGE]is 39 per cent,” he said.

“The female share of managers in Ireland is 34 per cent compared to 31 per cent [OECD AVERAGE]and the gender pay gap is actually on the OECD average...the female share of managers in the public sector is also fairly close, it’s 29 per cent [IN IRELAND]and 32 per cent for the OECD.”

Mr Adema said what was not reflected in the data was the introduction of paternity leave in Ireland last September. The benefit, which is €235 a week for two weeks of leave, is available for up to 26 weeks after a child’s birth or adoption placement and is also available to same-sex couples.

“Two weeks paternity leave is a start,” Mr Adema said. “Ten or so OECD countries now have 10 weeks of paid father’s leave so compared to that, Ireland is still lagging behind but progress is being made.”

While young women in OECD countries now, on average, obtain more years of schooling than young men, girls are much less likely to study in the science, technology, engineering and mathematic fields.

Women’s labour force participation rates have moved closer to men’s rates over the past few decades, but in every OECD country women are still less likely than men to engage in paid work.

When woman do work, they are more likely to work part-time, are less likely to advance to management, are more likely to face discrimination and earn less than men, it says.