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Is there a gender pay gap in Ireland?

Gender Pay Gap

Written by Tara O'Neill
Mar 06, 2015
Submitted by Tara O'Neill on Fri, 03/06/2015 - 06:08

“We have fought for everybody else's equal rights, it's our time to have wage equality, once and for all, and equal rights for women”.

These are the rousing words that Patricia Arquette delivered at the 87th Academy Awards on 22nd February 2015. Although her famous words focused on the United States, if I were to ask if the same gender pay gap exists in Ireland, what would you say? 

Did you know: 

  • In Ireland women spend 7 weeks working for no pay every year because women are paid a sixth less than men on average annually. So, women actually just started earning on 16th February 2015.
  • The gender pay gap in Ireland is increasing. It was 12.6% in 2008 and 2009 and increased to 13.9% in 2010 and 14.4% in 2012 (*most recent figures available)
  • In Ireland the gender pay gap is around 4% for the bottom 10% of earners, but this figure jumps to 24.6% when it comes to the top 10% of earners.
  • Ireland is one of just 6 EU countries where the gap has got bigger in recent years. The other countries are Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria and Spain.
  • After the age of 65, women have a third less than our male counterparts.
  • Women are most discriminated against in Estonia, Austria and Germany where the pay gap is between 22% to 30%. Women are least discriminated against in Slovenia where the gap is 2.5%.
  • Women are more likely to have a third-level qualification, with over half (55.3%) of women aged 25-34 having a third-level qualification in 2013 compared to just 42.7% of men in this age group.
  • Based on current projections it will take 81 years for the world to close the gender pay gap completely. 

One study noted that even after “decades of equal pay legislation” the main obstacles to equal pay still persist; a lack of transparency in pay systems, a lack of legal clarity in the definition of work of equal value and procedural obstacles. 

In addition to this study, another answer may be found in Lean In, written by the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, and in particular when she discusses her initial compensation offer by Mark Zuckerberg.

After a series of meetings with the young CEO where they discussed their vision for Facebook, she finally decided to join the company. She thought that her compensation offer was fair, and in spite of her husband insisting that she negotiate, she didn’t want to do anything that would ruin the deal. Just as she was about to accept the initial compensation offer, her brother-in-law, exasperated at her refusal to negotiate, blurted out, "Damn it Sheryl! Why are you going to make less than any man would make to do the same job?" Thanks to her brother-in-law’s comments, she then ‘negotiated hard’ and received a much better offer where her salary was increased, her contract was extended from 4 years to 5 years and she could buy shares in the company. 

So when the Forbes 9th Most Powerful Woman doesn’t initially ask for a better compensation package, what hope is there for the rest of us! 

International Women's Day takes place on Sunday 8th March and we can start to take steps towards closing the gender pay gap. Why not feel more empowered when it comes to either accepting a new job offer or negotiating a pay rise. However, this might be easier said than done, so if you find it difficult to negotiate a better deal, check out the many blogs on how to negotiate and what to do when accepting a job offer written by our consultants. 

So while it might not close the gender pay gap immediately, learning how to negotiate a salary or a new job offer might help us all close that pay gap in less than 81 years!

Read next:

Irish Gender Pay Gap stands at 20% according to Morgan McKinley study

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