Men, women and a pay gap

Sir, – Allan Sweeney points out that the Gender Pay Gap Bill 2018 does not actually compel employers to pay women and men equally for the same work (Letters, March 5th). To be fair, this is presumably because such a duty has already existed in Irish law since 1974, by virtue of successive rounds of employment equality legislation, several EU directives and, indeed, a directly enforceable EU treaty provision. A failure to pay equal pay for equal work constitutes discrimination for the purposes of the Equality Acts, and is actionable as such before the Workplace Relations Commission.

Of course, Mr Sweeney’s comparison with Iceland’s method of certification is still a valid one. Cultural norms often discourage frank discussion among colleagues and friends about salary rates, which may result in women not realising that they are paid less; in such circumstances, it makes sense to have a compulsory investigation process by the State rather than relying on individual employees taking lawsuits.

Unfortunately, it should also be recalled that the most insidious form of gender pay gap arises from undervaluing work in gendered industries like cleaning and care provision. Insisting on all male and female workers in each industry being paid the same wage will not eliminate the gender pay gap, when the workforce in a low-paid industry is disproportionately female, and the workforce of a higher-paid industry (like technology for example) disproportionately male. That is to say nothing of the disproportionate number of women in part-time work, whatever the industry.

Serious attempts to tackle the gender pay gap are going to require appropriately valuing industries and working patterns that tend to be gendered, as well as breaking down barriers to access for women to higher-paying industries, and to higher-paying managerial positions across the economy. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – The so-called gender pay gap is a myth. It takes no account of age, experience, education and, most importantly, the choices men and women make. Men and women make different choices in their career decisions, and what is becoming increasingly clear is that the more equal a country becomes, male and female career choices become even more differentiated in many areas. The only reason this so-called gap is alluded to is to create the erroneous impression that women are being discriminated against. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.