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Sunday 22 October 2017

Gender gap in the workforce is narrowing

More females than males in full-time education

The CSO says the labour force participation rate – or percentage of people aged 15 and over excluding students, retirees and homemakers – is rising among women, across 24 of the 31 local authority areas. Stock picture
The CSO says the labour force participation rate – or percentage of people aged 15 and over excluding students, retirees and homemakers – is rising among women, across 24 of the 31 local authority areas. Stock picture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The gap between the number of women and men in the workforce has narrowed over the last five years while more females are also in full-time education, new Census data reveals.

There are now 929,967 women at work, up 9pc since 2011, compared with just over a million men, and the divide is closing.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has also revealed the number of female homemakers has halved over the last 35 years, while the number of women students has doubled.

The number of women looking after the home or family has been falling since 1981, with the most recent inter-censal period showing a decline of 11.5pc to 277,380, a fall of 36,000.

Conversely, the number of men with this status rose by 15pc, to 20,747.

The CSO says the labour force participation rate - or percentage of people aged 15 and over excluding students, retirees and homemakers - is rising among women, across 24 of the 31 local authority areas.

More women aged 19-22 - the so-called college years - are also more likely to attend third-level. The gap in education attendance between men and women is most pronounced for 20-year-olds.

Figures showing the closing of the workforce gender gap come as a recent OECD report showed a 6.5pc difference in pay scales among men and women in this country.

Ireland also fares poorly when it comes to female boardroom representation, with an 18pc female participation rate, compared to 22pc in the UK and 34pc in France.

Read More: The Irish workplace is changing - now pay and promotions must follow

The 'Census 2016 Summary Results Part 2' report says that education participation among women aged 19-22 stands at 59.5pc, compared with 52.8pc for men.

"The gap is widest among 20 year olds with 65.5pc of females indicating they were a student compared with 56.7pc of men," the CSO said. "For both sexes, rates have increased on 2011 with males increasing from 48.8pc in 2011 to 52.8pc in 2016, while female rates increased from 55.1pc to 59.5pc."

The benefit of remaining in education is also evident with lower unemployment rates among those with higher qualifications. It says that unemployment rates for women was higher when a primary or lower-secondary level of education was achieved, but lower for those with upper secondary or third level. Generally, unemployment among women with a third-level degree was 5.9pc compared with 6.5pc for men.

In the five years to April 2016, female labour force participation rates increased in 24 of the 31 administrative areas, compared with two for males. The largest growth was in Dublin City, which increased by 2.5pc to 59.4pc.

Fingal has the highest overall female participation rates at 60.9pc, but this is a fall of 0.8pc. This could be due to ageing and increased participation in education. The lowest female participation rate is in Cork City at 49.6pc.

While unemployment is falling, coupled with a sharp rise of 9.6pc to 293,000 in the number of non-nationals at work, black-spots remain.

Among the cities, Waterford has the highest unemployment rate at 18.8pc, while the highest county rate was in Longford at 30.6pc. This compares with a national average of 12.9pc at the time of Census 2016 in April last year.

Irish Independent

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