Monday 20 November 2017

A perfect gender-balancing act

Population matched but not wages as nation's battle of the sexes rages on

Grainne Cunningham

IRISH women might be poorly paid, undervalued and less well represented politically than their male counterparts -- but at least they've no reason to be lonely.

Ireland is the only European country that is perfectly gender-balanced, with a man for every woman, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed yesterday.

But apart from good news for those in search of a life partner, the report shows that the glass ceiling is intact, and that many other stereotypes remain true in 21st-century Ireland.

Despite being better qualified than men, women earn considerably less, with an average hourly income that is about 87pc of their male counterparts.

Over half of women aged 25 to 34 have a degree, compared to 38pc of men in the same age group.

Men are far more likely to have a seat in the Dail or Seanad, on state boards or to be members of local and regional authorities. Last year, just 14pc of TDs, 34pc of those on state boards and 17pc of those on local councils, were female.

With just 22 seats in the Dail filled by women, Ireland ranks a poor 23rd in Europe for women in parliament.

And male athletes received almost three times as many grants as female athletes, according to Irish Sports Council figures from 2008 included in the CSO report.

But it's not all perfect on the masculine side of the gender divide. Men die younger -- about five years earlier than women in 2006 -- and are more likely to suffer from alcoholic disorders and schizophrenia.

The country's jails are overwhelmingly packed with men, with just 7.4pc of the 6,455 people receiving a custodial sentence in 2007 being female. In the same year, 80pc of murder or manslaughter victims were male.

Men are four times more likely to die by suicide, while 15- to 24-year-olds are at particularly high risk from suicide and car accidents.


More than one million men are working, compared with 886,500 women -- a fifth of whom are in secretarial or administrative jobs, compared with just 5.5pc of men.

Craft jobs showed the least gender balance, with men filling 96pc of roles in the sector.

Men have a higher rate of employment, but also a higher rate of unemployment. While 75pc of men have been at work for the past number of years, in 2009, that fell sharply to 67.3pc. Employment for women fell, but to a far lesser extent.

Unemployment for men tripled from about 5pc in recent years to over 15pc last year, while the unemployment rate for women, which had been at about 4pc, rose to 8.1pc.

Other trends identified in the report are harder to fathom. Of the men not at work, almost 10,000 said they were either looking after home or family in 1999 but that figure dropped significantly to 6,700 last year.

The CSO report, Women And Men In Ireland 2009, showed that, in 2007, the rate of men who left school early was almost twice that of women.

Meanwhile, traditional differences in the Leaving Certificate continued with girls more likely to take English, Irish and French at higher level, while boys took technical subjects.

The pattern carried on into third-level colleges and universities as men accounted for 84pc of engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates and 60pc in science graduates, while 79pc of health and 76pc of education graduates were women.

Irish Independent

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