Saturday 21 April 2018

North bucks the trend with gender pay gap in favour of women

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

In the #MeToo era increasing attention is starting to be placed on the gender pay gap.

Most recently, producers of Netflix hit 'The Crown' had to apologise after it emerged that the show's star, Claire Foy, was being paid less than her co-star Matt Smith.

However, closer to home and Northern Ireland is bucking the trend.

Not only have women in Northern Ireland achieved parity in pay, they actually earn more than their male counterparts, according to the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS).

On average, women in Northern Ireland earn 3.4pc more than men, something that has been happening since 2010, making Northern Ireland the only region in the UK where the pay gap has moved in favour of women.

The ONS suggests that the reason women in Northern Ireland are, on average, earning more than their male counterparts, is because it has a higher number of public sector jobs than the rest of the UK, an area that is seen as more open to advancement by female employees.

The UK's highest paid region is also its most unequal. In London, a city dominated by finance jobs, men are being paid an average of 14.6pc more than women.

After Northern Ireland bucking the gender pay gap trend, the lowest gender pay gap in the UK can be found in Wales and Scotland, with the two countries last year reporting gender pay gaps of 6.3pc and 6.6pc respectively.

Putting the gap in monetary terms, the ONS found that the median hourly wage for women in full-time work was around 9.1pc less than the median hourly wage for men, excluding any overtime worked, which works out at £1.32 (€1.50) less per hour.

Taking into account part-time work, which is more dominated by women, and the pay gap in the UK rises to 18.4pc or £2.52 (€2.88) per hour.

Despite the public sector benefiting women in Northern Ireland, for part-time workers, the gender pay gap in the public sector has in fact widened over the last 20 years.

In 1997, women working part-time in the UK public sector earned 6.1pc per hour less than men, whereas in 2017 they earned just over a fifth less, according to the ONS.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, the opposite is true for part-time employees.

In 1997, women working part-time in the private sector in the UK earned 2.2pc less than men. However, by last year the gap had reversed and women now earn 2.6pc more than men. This particular gap has been in favour of women in the UK since 2010.

While the gender pay gap has traditionally widened with age as women spend time outside the labour marker, the report from the ONS found that this had decreased dramatically for older women working part-time, with pay levels being virtually indistinguishable for older women compared with their younger counterparts.

"This follows a number of UK government and EU policies aimed at encouraging these women back into the labour market and at an equal pay level with men," the ONS said.

In the Republic of Ireland, the most recent data from Eurostat suggest that the gender pay gap is around 14pc, slightly below the EU average of 16.2pc.

Meanwhile, the latest 'Women in Work Index', published by PwC, ranks Ireland 25th out of 33 OECD countries when it comes to the position of women within organisations, where a mere 9pc of women are CEOs.

Irish Independent

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