Wednesday 13 November 2019

Gender pay gap means women 'working for free' until next year

Launch: Susan Howe (5) and her brother Thomas (9) with Dress for Success Dublin founder Sonya Lennon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Launch: Susan Howe (5) and her brother Thomas (9) with Dress for Success Dublin founder Sonya Lennon. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Melanie Finn and Shawn Pogatchnik

Irish women are effectively "working for free" from today until the end of the year, given the extent of the gender pay gap.

Yesterday marked the day women ceased to earn when compared with their male counterparts, with the gender pay gap in Ireland currently standing at 13.9pc.

Dress for Success Dublin (DFSD) launched its fourth annual #WorkEqual campaign as it highlighted continuing issues around gender equality in the workplace.

TV presenter and designer Sonya Lennon, who founded DFSD, said that if you shave 13.9pc off the end of this year, you land on yesterday's date.

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"Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day to highlight the still-existing pay gap between women and men," she said.

"We acknowledge that the pay gap is a symptom of the wider gender opportunity gap and cultural and structural challenges that women face in the workplace."

She said that while progress was being made, change was happening slowly and more needed to be done to change societal and political attitudes.

"Lack of affordable childcare, gender stereotyping, inflexible work options and poor take-up of parental leave are all feeding into the persistent inequalities between women and men," she said.

The #WorkEqual campaign is an effort to bring together leading figures from the world of business, politics, policy- making and civic society in order to thrash out possible solutions to the issue.

Its initiative will hinge on a leadership conference at the Marker Hotel in Dublin on Wednesday, November 27, which will be attended by some keynote speakers.

Other activities include a day of action and political awareness-raising at Leinster House alongside briefings with all Dublin's county councils.

There will also be an online campaign to motivate members of the public to prioritise the issue of gender equality at the next general election.

Meanwhile, a new survey found that the gender pay gap often begins at the start of working life, given that many women set their pay expectations 10pc lower than male peers straight out of university.

The survey asked nearly 11,000 new graduates from 25 different Irish universities and colleges to specify their salary expectations.

Among those graduates with degrees in science, tech, engineering and maths (Stem) fields, the male applicants expected €37,404 while their female peers said they expected only €33,543, some 10.3pc less.

Male business and economics graduates expected to be paid €35,564 against an expectation of €33,426 among women, 6pc less.

Irishjobs.ie and employer branding firm Universum, which produced the research, said that the findings highlight an important factor driving pay differentials between men and women in many starting roles.

Orla Moran, general manager of the jobs website, said that the gap between male and female graduates' pay expectations had widened in the past year.

She said that women needed to "feel educated and empowered to negotiate salaries on a par with their male peers as they embark on the first rung on the career ladder".

Irish Independent

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