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29 Nov 2021

Research on gender pay gap shows women effectively work for free for rest of year from today

New research released by WorkEqual shows 74 per cent of people believe closing the gender pay gap is important and should be a priority for Government and employers.

The research, released today to mark Equal Pay Day 2021, surveyed over 1000 people and found support for this issue was particularly strong amongst women: 85 per cent of women agree with this statement, compared to 63 per cent of men, with older men are more likely to agree with this statement than younger men.

Equal Pay Day is the date on which women in Ireland effectively stop earning, relative to men, because of the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 14.4 per cent. This means women in Ireland effectively work for free for the last 14.4 per cent of the year, i.e. from today.

WorkEqual’s founder Sonya Lennon said:

“Our research shows the public are in strong favour of action from government and employers to close the gender pay gap.

“The Gender Pay Gap Information Act was enacted earlier this year, which will mean large employers must report on their gender pay gaps from 2022 onwards. We are calling on employers to be really proactive about this. Reporting is just one small aspect of addressing the gap.

"It needs to be accompanied by action plans, setting out how individual workplaces will tackle their gender gaps. Although workplaces with less than 250 employees will not be covered by the Act in its initial years, we also want to see smaller employers embracing change and taking steps now to address the gender pay gap.

“All of this must be backed up by ongoing political will and public support. The Government has promised a public awareness campaign to inform people about the new legislation. Our research shows strong support for addressing the gender pay gap, but it also points to confusion amongst the general public as to what exactly causes the gap.

"We need an effective campaign to educate people about what exactly the pay gap is; why it is important to address it; and what the multiple complex factors are that cause it.”

The findings showed that 67 per cent are in favour of pay transparency, believing people should have the right to know what other colleagues doing the same work are paid. Support is highest amongst women, 70 per cent of women agree compared to 63 per cent of men.

The vast majority of people (70 per cent) believe concerns about the gender pay gap represent awareness of a real issue. In contrast, 16 per cent believe they are an example of political correctness going too far.

Understanding of what the gender pay gap is – and what causes it – is mixed. 70 per cent of people recognise that the gender pay gap is the difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce.

85 per cent equate addressing the gender pay gap with ensuring people who do the exact same job get paid the exact same salary while only 52 per cent believe the gender pay gap exists because women often make career decisions influenced by the need to care for children and/or other family members.

In addition to surveying people about the gender pay gap, WorkEqual’s research also focused on how caring and household duties are divided between men and women in their own households.

52 per cent say that, in their own family, household planning tasks – such as shopping lists, meal planning, and organising gifts, holidays and social occasions – are more likely to be a woman’s responsibility. 42 per cent feel these tasks are likely to be shared between women and men, but only 2 per cent said they are more likely to be a man’s responsibility.

48 per cent say housework – such as laundry, cooking and cleaning – is more likely to be a woman’s responsibility. 46 per cent say it is likely to be shared with just 3 per cent say it is more likely to be a man’s responsibility.

48 per cent believe childcare arrangements – including sourcing and selecting a provider, drop-offs and collections – are more likely to be a woman’s responsibility. 37 per cent say this is likely to be a shared responsibility, while only 2 per cent believe it is likely to be a man’s responsibility.

When it comes to covering childcare costs out of your own salary, 18 percent say this is more likely to be a woman’s responsibility, 59 per cent say it is likely to be shared, and 7 per cent believe it is more likely to be a man’s responsibility.

In relation to career progression, 35 per cent of people say family caring duties have impacted on their career. 45 per cent of women feel they are impacted, compared to 25 per cent of men.

33 per cent of women with teenage children say their career has been impacted vs. 0 per cent of men.

For parents of pre-teens, 41 per cent of women feel impacted, compared to only 10 per cent of men. And, for parents of pre-school children, 46 per cent of women feel impacted, compared to 16 per cent of men.

Commenting on the findings, CEO Angela Smith said:

“The failings in Ireland’s childcare system have been well-documented. Our research clearly shows how childcare – and broader family responsibilities – impact on people’s careers and, in particular, how women bear the brunt of this.

“On a hopeful note, men who experience family life are more aware of the gender pay gap and the impact this has. And, overall, there is strong public support for action by government and employers to close the gender pay gap.

"We still have a long way to go and we need the support of everyone – women, men, workplaces and elected representatives – to make Ireland a much more gender-equal society."

WorkEqual’s Equal Pay Day activities are taking place as part of the organisation’s annual campaign to promote workplace gender equality. The campaign has run every November since 2016 and is sponsored by SOLAS, the further education and training authority, and Permanent TSB.

This year, the campaign’s focus is on childcare and how family caring duties impact on workplace gender equality. A flagship seminar – ‘Reimagining Childcare Provision’ – will take place on Thursday, 25th November, featuring international guest speakers showcasing best practice in public childcare provision, and a panel discussion on the challenges and solutions from an Irish perspective.

The event is free to attend, and you can register now at www.workequal.ie.

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