Negative commentary impacts women more than men, according to Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
The minister told the European People’s Party (EPP) Congress how she was treated differently when she started out in politics not because of her gender, but because of her age.
“I think women unfortunately are impacted more by negative commentary and I think some of my colleagues would probably say women are disproportionately impacted by negative commentary with politics than other walks of life,” she said.
Minister McEntee took the seat in Meath East after winning a bye-election in 2013 and said when she was elected, she was often asked if she was being treated differently from her male colleagues.
“I was 26, I was a young woman. I was always asked - do you think you’re treated differently because you’re a woman? And I have to say, the answer was always no.
“I think I’m very lucky in that I came into politics at a time where there was a shift, where there was a much younger dynamic.
“I always thought I was treated differently because I was young, because people thought I was naive and didn't have the same experience as others.”
She also told the conference that technology can help female politicians with their work life balance.
“I know for me certainly being able to get home, put [son] Michael to bed, go back on Zoom, do a bit of work and engage with people in a way that I haven't been able to before, it certainly opens up doors for me, but it also opens up doors for men in our lives as well.
“Until you have that balance, particularly when it comes to family and work, between men and women, for me, that’s one of the things that are actually preventing us from getting to that equality position that we need to be.
“We need to see men taking paternity leave, we need to see men taking time out to mind their families,” she added.
Irish MEP Frances Fitzgerald told the conference how there is a pension pay gap of 39pc between men and women across Europe.
This poses “severe consequences” on cost of living standards, Ms Fitzgerald said.
“If we were to deal with the pension gap, for example, which is 39pc at this stage across Europe. Just imagine the consequences of living with a 39pc pension pay gap.
“Think about your older age, think about the impact on families, the difficulty of providing care if you have a 39pc pension pay gap with men. It has severe consequences for your standard of living, the quality of your healthcare, the quality of your housing,” she said.