Time to redress the gender pay gap balance

Steps taken to increase women’s representation in the Dáil, now time to look at the world of business

Speaking following the publication of an EU Commission study which suggests that Irish women are earning less than their male counterparts, Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said steps are being taken to increase female representation in the Dáil but discrimination persists in the business world.

“In the world of politics and business, women are seriously underrepresented. In the Dáil, we are outnumbered six to one and in the world of business it is estimated that we make up just 8% of senior positions on Irish listed companies.

“It is absurd to think that in this day and age, women are being undervalued in the workplace to such an extent. This study suggests that women in their 20s in Ireland are earning roughly 10% less than men, with this pay gap widening the older we get.

“Though there are many contributing factors at play here, the fact that women are the primary care givers in Irish society means that we are often overlooked for more senior roles in favour of men. Until this issue is properly addressed, these problems will persist.

“The Minister for the Environment is legislating to ensure a greater number of female candidates are put forward at election time, giving the electorate a fairer and more balanced choice of who represents them in the Dáil. We must now examine the best way to redress this balance in the private sector.

“In Norway in 2003, sanctions were imposed on companies that failed to ensure 40% female representation on corporate boards. This system worked well and resulted in female representation going from 15.9% to the targeted 40% four years later. If we are serious about increasing female representation and bridging the gender pay gap, careful consideration must be given to proposals such as this. We must also address the deficiencies that exist in childcare provision and in making the workplace more child friendly.

“Women make up half the population and should be treated equally to men. Attempts are being made to redress the gender balance in the Dáil, the Government now needs to examine the best way forward for the world of business.”

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