Reports on the gender pay gap confirm what we have long known: women are over-represented in part-time and low-wage jobs and under-represented in high-paying managerial positions, although the extent of the skewness in sectors such as legal, consulting and finance, or even media, is surprising.
With more than a third of companies now reporting on the gender pay gap, the data shows that, on average, men are paid about 11-12 percent more per hour than women across the economy.
The gender pay gap is different from wage discrimination – paying men and women differently for the same work – which is illegal.
According to the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, Ireland’s pay gap was 11.3 per cent in 2019. The EU average was 13% in 2020 – Irish data for 2020 are not available.
Other studies put that gap at around 16 percent, while Labor Senator Marie Sherlock believes it could be as high as 22.2 percent when hours worked are taken into account, as more women tend to work part-time and Taking career breaks to have children or care for family members.
The problem with looking at an average of averages is that it hides large gaps in certain sectors, both positive and negative.
The fundamental problem is at the top of the gender pay gap
Financial firms paid men an average of 20 percent more than women in the year to June, while some law and consulting firms — and a branch of construction giant CRH — the gap was more than 40 percent.
On average, women earn 16.8 percent more than men call of Duty Manufacturer EA Games, because more work in higher-paying jobs at this company, even though they make up only a third of the workforce.
The publisher of that newspaper, Mediahuis, was also an outlier among the media companies reported so far, with an average pay gap of 22.3 percent.
“The biggest surprise of the published reports is that some of the gender pay gaps in organizations are far larger than the national gender pay gap,” said Moira Grassick, chief operating officer at employment law firm Peninsula Ireland.
“Any organization that has reported a gender pay gap well in excess of the national total may be subject to closer scrutiny and calls for action to be taken to close such a large gender pay gap.”
Ahead of the earnings season, the Ibec group of companies, which has a gender pay gap of over 29 percent and a 69 percent female workforce, advised companies to develop a “reliable narrative” to explain any differences, saying the numbers were “meaningless.” and open to interpretation” without context.
The math can also be confusing.
Some law firms and consultants presented their reports without partners owning part of the business, often in the hundreds but skewing the average higher.
Some prefer to emphasize the median wage gap — the midpoint between the highest and lowest salaries — rather than the mean (the most well-known measure of the average), as it can smooth out some of the extremes.
If the median is below the mean, it means that a few high earners are skewing the overall average upwards. If the median is higher, then more low and middle earners are represented.
This could be a problem when organizations with fewer employees start creating reports. This applies from 2024 for employees over 150 and from 2025 for employees over 50.
“For smaller organizations, you may see larger gender pay gaps because of the impact of leadership [salaries are] distributed among 50 or 100 employees,” said compensation consultant Oliver Coakley. “You’ll see a lot more positive and negative numbers.”
Eurostat data shows that the gap is narrower for younger people and tends to widen with age – what Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has dubbed the “maternity gap”.
Research by the University of Bonn’s Institute for Labor Economics found that Ireland’s pay gap is wider for higher earners in the private sector, a phenomenon it calls “unexplainable” given that more women tend to have degrees than men.
“The fundamental problem is at the top of the gender pay gap,” says Lisa Wilson, senior economist at the Nevin Economic Research Institute.
“Women are more likely to graduate. While this has the effect of narrowing the overall gender pay gap, men receive higher returns for this degree.”
She says much of the Irish gap is due to a lack of childcare and flexible working for men, as more women take career breaks or work part-time and as a result are paid less on average.
“It’s an accepted punishment [for women]. It’s just not acceptable for the man to do this because of cultural norms. We can do more for men.”
Recruiters say companies can do something right now to encourage diversity in the workplace, including in their hiring processes.
British retailer John Lewis found that simply changing the default settings for job ads to include part-time options increased applications from women by 35 percent.
There are no penalties for failing to close a gender pay gap, although the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can obtain a court order for companies that do not publish reports.
However, they do not keep track of which companies have submitted. Neither does the Department for Equality, although there are plans to set up a central repository for the data in the future, as the UK has done with its Gender Pay Gap Service.
I think it’s an ethical responsibility
“It’s really frustrating that government policy here is putting responsibilities on employers,” says Ms. Wilson.
“The concern is that we’re relying on all this piecemeal data to try and form a picture of what’s going on.”
The next front could be companies reporting wage disparities based on race, disability and sexual orientation. Many companies in the UK and some companies operating in Ireland already do this, although it is not required by law.
“I think it’s an ethical responsibility,” said Darren Thomas Baker, assistant professor of economics and society at University College Dublin.[to] diversify not only very male careers, but also very white and heterosexual ones in general.
“If it is not fixed over time, if the pay gap does not go away, organizations will only be asked to do more. That gives them time and space to do something about it.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/jobs/gender-pay-gap-reports-highlight-the-penalty-for-women-in-the-workplace-42242184.html Reports on the gender pay gap highlight the disadvantages faced by women in the workplace