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Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Jan 16, 2018

By Emma Kerins, EU & International Affairs Manager

Last week, Chambers Ireland was invited to address a symposium on the gender pay gap, hosted by the Department of Justice and Equality in Iveagh House.

Speaking on a panel that included Emily Logan of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Senator Ivan Bacik, representatives of IBEC, ICTU CIPD and Chartered Institute of Surveyors, Chambers Ireland’s EU and International Affairs Manager Emma Kerins outlined the approach of the Chamber Network to addressing both the gender pay gap and the wider issues of female labour participation.

A broad theme of the discussions throughout the day’s presentations was that defining both the extent and the cause of gaps in pay between genders is no easy feat. However, while there are a variety of models used to define the “gender pay gap”, including the OECD definition and the Eurostat definition, eith both producing slightly different results as to the extent of the gap. However, the fact remains that reegardless how you measure the gap,, men are consistently paid more than women.

Therefore, in order to tackle this we must carefully examine what factors are contributing to men, on average, earning more than women. It is worth considering that when policy-makers focus solely on the pay gap between genders it is possible to misrepresent the degree of pay disparity and who is impacted the most.

For example, data published by the ILO on the UK notes that the pay gap between men and women is approximately 20.8%, while the “Motherhood Pay Gap” (defined as a woman without any children, compared to a woman with two children) being as high as 25%. This suggests that the pay gap issue isn’t solely due to gender and is in fact connected to caring responsibilities and the manner in which societal and statutory leave rights are structured, which often results in caring responsibilities weighing more heavily on women than they do on men. Women’s default role as care-givers frequently results in a gender pay gap, a gender pension gap, interrupted career trajectories (which is a contributory factor in both the pay gap and pension gap), an absence from positions associated with power and decision making, and underrepresentation of female directors on company boards.

If Government is to design solutions that bridge the gap in pay between men and women, a nuanced approach will be required to ascertain the reasons for gender pay gaps in Ireland and solutions that tackle the root causes.

Recommendations

  1. Reform how the gender pay gap is calculated and agree a standard definition for defining the gender pay gap
  2. Promote tools and resources for employers to encourage wage transparency
  3. Increase and sustain investment in quality childcare services
  4. Support Parenting Equality by introducing measures that support both parents to share in caring responsibilities. 
  5. Support female entrepreneurship and female participation in STEM

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