Opinion Editorial

Sunday 15 September 2019

Editorial: 'We need positive action to smash the glass ceiling'

'Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes to see 20 women members of his party in the next Dáil. His record has been less than impressive in bringing women into Cabinet.' Stock picture
'Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes to see 20 women members of his party in the next Dáil. His record has been less than impressive in bringing women into Cabinet.' Stock picture
Editorial

Editorial

There is an impulse to stand up to the generational narcissism that decrees we must always change the social script to suit all current politically correct mores - all the time.

But when it comes to the issue of inequality, or sexism, there is no contest. It is wrong - it was always wrong - but for it to be a hot topic in 21st century Ireland is not just wrong, but shamefully so.

This year marks the centenary Irish women were given the right to vote. But for all the back-slapping and smug satisfaction about the great strides we have made, women are still being left behind; as today's CPL research shows, women's earnings drop once they have children.

Not much equality there. That it should still be necessary to launch a "day of action" on the gender pay gap, as Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee is doing today, is proof enough the only pay we are prepared to share liberally with women is that of lip-service.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes to see 20 women members of his party in the next Dáil. His record has been less than impressive in bringing women into Cabinet.

The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 ordains political parties will have their State funding slashed by 50pc unless 30pc of their election candidates are of each gender.

The Women's Council of Ireland argued: "When women are on the ballot paper, they get elected."

They were right. In the 2016 General Election, 35 women were returned to the Dáil.

When parties recognised they would be hit in the pocket, more women miraculously materialised.

Quotas ought not be necessary, but they clearly are.

Nor has academia covered itself in glory. While 51pc of staff in our institutions of higher education are women, at the level of professorship, 77pc are men.

Adding to the injustice, the majority of women are on short-term contracts. Thus a plan for the introduction of 45 women-only professorships has been put forward by Government.

It is hardly monumentally impertinent in 21st-century Ireland to suggest women be given a fair deal morally and legally.

We pride ourselves on our tolerance, but to be tolerant of the intolerable is nothing to be proud of.

Finding offence is easy, taking it easier still, but society as a whole ought to be offended by what amounts to the mistreatment and disregard for women reflected in discriminatory practices.

We have ignored the glass ceiling for long enough; the knowledge there are still areas where women are continually confronting a barrier demands a societal response.

Irish Independent

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