The Question: Why are Irish mammies the worst paid in Europe?

When it comes to gender equality at work, mothers are getting a raw deal, according to Glassdoor

When it comes to gender equality at work, Irish mammies are getting the worst deal of them all. The careers website Glassdoor says its survey has found that the gender pay gap is widest among Irish women who have chosen to have children.

The pay difference between men and women is wide enough in Ireland, but when women have children the pay difference goes up enormously – by almost a third – making Irish mothers among the worst paid people in the workforce. No wonder that dishcloth hasn't been changed in years.

The company asked which European countries have the best gender equality in the workplace. Its study looked at 18 countries, with the US included as a benchmark, and compared them on a variety of gender-equality issues, including the pay gap between men and women, women’s representation on corporate boards, legislatures and top management, and the impact of motherhood on pay.

It found that Scandinavia is the ideal environment for women in the workplace, with Sweden, Norway and Finland ranking highest for overall gender equality. Ireland is third from the bottom overall, just above Greece and Italy, and women are also woefully under-represented at board level here.


But when it comes to equality for women who have children, we are at rock bottom.

“The cost of motherhood is highest in Ireland, where the pay difference (with respect to men) between women with at least one child and those with no children is 31 percentage points,” says the study.

It notes that the presence of children tends to widen the gender pay gap right across Europe and that "social and family structures tend to penalise women with children".

It doesn’t help that Ireland has, along with the UK, some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, putting an extra burden on Irish women, who end up doing the lion’s share of housework and childcare – unpaid, of course.

The good news is that third-level and further education significantly increase a woman’s chances of being employed and help to narrow the gender pay gap.