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Women more likely than men to be in low paid jobs – ESRI

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Women in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are more likely than men to work in low paid jobs, according to a new study.

The report has been published as part of a research programme between the Department of the Taoiseach’s Shared Island Unit and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Drawing on data for 2022 and a consultation with stakeholders, the report focusses on gender disparities in the labour market and examines the barriers to employment faced by women across the island of Ireland.

Pay differences

One quarter of women and 18% of men in the Republic of Ireland, and 21% of women and 14% of men in Northern Ireland, were classified as low-paid, earning less than two-thirds of the median hourly pay.

Even when factors such as education, sector and age are taken account of, women in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were consistently more likely to be low-paid compared to men.

The study found that higher education offered strong protection against low pay in both jurisdictions.

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Working from home

In 2022, 25% of women and men in the Republic of Ireland, and 14% of women and 19% of men in Northern Ireland, were working “mainly from home”.

According to the research, women in Northern Ireland were less likely to work from home, which is due to their over-representation in jobs in health, education and front-line public administration and part-time jobs.

People living in the Republic of Ireland work longer hours than those living in Northern Ireland.

Women were significantly more likely to work part-time than men in both jurisdictions, but rates are significantly higher for women in Northern Ireland.

Labour market participation

Levels of labour market participation are lower for both women and men in Northern Ireland compared to Ireland, with female labour force participation at 76% in Ireland and 72% in Northern Ireland.

Differences in education attainment account for much of the differences across jurisdictions.

Having young children reduces labour market participation among women to the same extent in both jurisdictions.

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However, women in Northern Ireland with older children were less likely to participate than their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland.

Being a lone parent reduces labour market participation in both jurisdictions but operates as a stronger barrier in Northern Ireland.

Older age is also a stronger barrier to participation for women in Northern Ireland.

Access to childcare

The study found that access to affordable early childhood care and education remains a key issue in both jurisdictions as well as expanding after-school care for parents with older children.

“Labour market inclusion is a key component of gender equality,” said report author Garance Hingre.

“Women experience common disadvantages in the labour market across the island of Ireland. Yet the scale and nature of gender differences are also shaped by national policies and demographics,” she said.

“Comparing neighbouring systems offers an opportunity for mutual policy learning,” Ms Hingre added.

The Gender and Labour Market Inclusion Report will be launched today by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs Roderic O’Gorman.

“When it comes to participation in the labour market, it’s been clear for a long time that women face far greater obstacles than men,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“This paper provides an important empirical examination of the factors at play across the island of Ireland,” he added.

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