Ireland ranked ninth for gender equality among the 27 EU states

Women in Ireland remain 'significantly under-represented in decision-making structures'

Tánaiste Joan Burton  photographed in Government Buildings outlining the main provisions of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013. Figures released today by the Central Statistics Office reveal that women in Ireland are significantly under-represented in decision-making structures both nationally and regionally. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Tánaiste Joan Burton photographed in Government Buildings outlining the main provisions of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013. Figures released today by the Central Statistics Office reveal that women in Ireland are significantly under-represented in decision-making structures both nationally and regionally. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

 

Ireland ranks above the EU average in terms of gender equality but remains “significantly under-represented in decision-making structures”, according to a statistical overview released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this morning.

The report entitled Women and Men in Ireland 2013 provides a statistical snapshot of men and women in Ireland in 2013 across a range of indicators including education, employment, wage disparity, life expectancy and migration patterns.

It points out that Ireland ranked in ninth place in a gender equality index comparing 27 EU member states, scoring 55.2 out of 100 in the index, faring slightly better than the EU average of 54 points.

However, this falls far behind Sweden, Denmark and Finland, all of which scored above 73 points, and other countries including the UK with an equality index rating of 60.4.

The index, compiled by the European Institute for Gender Equality, looks at six categories covering employment; money; education; women and men’s representation in the political and economic spheres; time and health status and access.

Although Ireland ranks better than all other EU countries in this latter category with an equality rating of 96.4, it is among the 10 lowest-ranked countries when it comes to political and economic representation.

This morning’s CSO report notes that, in 2013 only 15.7 per cent of TDs in Dáil Éireann were women (compared to an average representation of 27.5 per cent in national parliaments in the wider EU) while female representatives accounted for less than a fifth of members of local authorities.

This leads the CSO report to note that women in Ireland are significantly under-represented in decision-making structures both nationally and regionally.

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It shows that more young Irish women have a third-level education than their male counterparts with more than half, or 55.3 per cent, of 25- to 34-year-old women holding a third-level qualification compared to 42.7 per cent of men in the same age group.

Employment among both sexes has increased in the past two years reaching 65.7 per cent among men and 55.9 per cent among women in the first three months of 2014.

Unemployment among men stood at 13.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year while one in 10 women were unemployed in the same period.

Men worked an average of 39.2 hours a week in paid employment in 2013 compared to 31.2 hours for women.

However, unemployment rates were higher among young people in both sexes affecting around three out of 10 men and two out of 10 women in 2013.

The figures also show that married men work longer hours: 44.1 per cent of married men work for 40-plus hours each week in comparison with 16.8 per cent of married women.

In 2011 men had an average income of €33,364 compared to €24,515 for women, or 73.5 per cent of men’s income. However, after adjusting for the longer hours worked by men, women’s average hourly income stood at 94.1 per cent of that earned by their male counterparts.

Today’s statistical overview again underlines considerable differences in the sectors in which men and women participate and the under-representation of woman at senior levels, even in sectors which employ significantly higher numbers of women: Over a third of women in employment in 2012 worked in the health and education sectors, accounting for four out of five employees in the health sector and three quarters of those working in education.

However just 44 per cent of primary school managers, 41 per cent of second-level school managers and 37 per cent of medical and dental consultants were women.

Women were slightly less likely to emigrate than men with 44,000 female emigrants in 2013 versus 44,900 men.

The overwhelming majority of stay-at-home parents were women: more than 98 per cent of people “looking after home/family” in 2013 were women, or close to half a million women compared to just 8,700 men.

The CSO report shows that the life expectancy at birth for women in Ireland stood at 83.2 years in 2012 compared to a male life expectancy of 78.7 years.

Irish women have the joint highest fertility rate in the EU with Ireland and France recording a fertility rate of 2.01 in 2012 compared to an EU average of 1.58.

The average age at which women gave birth to their first child has risen consistently from 1980 onwards when the average age stood at 24.9 years to 29.8 years in 2011.