Why are Irish women continuing to suffer from financial instability?

In Ireland women earn on average less than their male counterparts. Read more about the current situation and start reviewing your finances in a proactive way.

Read time: 5 Minutes

Do girls really run the world? Celebrations are soon to be underway from all corners of the globe in the celebration of International Women’s Day taking place 8th March 2018.

The day is a celebration of the progress and developments in women’s equality over the last 100 years, since it was first brought about by the Suffragettes in 1911. Every year the event recognises the advances being made throughout society, workplaces and home life.

In January the topic was given spotlight as part of Nollaig na mBan, which celebrated women’s contribution to society. As part of this, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pledged to “review the effectiveness of existing measures to tackle gender inequality”.

With flexible working conditions, shared parental duties and equal access to further education, women now can avail of greater opportunity set before them.

Or at least it seems that way.

When weighing up the current position, the question we are unable to avoid is “how independent are women in the modern day?”

The Reality

Last month we uncovered the disparity in pensions payments in Ireland exposing the significant gender gap– a 38% difference to be exact.

Differences in pension age, the number of those enrolled in private cover and various levels of State contribution are all factors leading to a higher payout in favour of men.

But before the blame game sets in, is it possible to find out the tipping point for female earnings?

Not without difficulty.

The problems first surface a long way from pension age; from the beginning of someone’s first interaction with money to be exact. There’s been reports of inequality in the amount of pocket money given to children – with boys receiving 13% more than girls (according in a UK wide survey conducted by Halifax.

This behaviour only grows throughout working years, becoming an accepted norm throughout society. But this shouldn’t be the case. In considering how this results in financial instability, specifically in the cases of lone parents, divorcee’s or someone who has persons depending on them – the reality of it hits a lot harder.

In Ireland women earn on average 14.8% less than their male counterparts, even those that are better qualified for the same position (according to OECD).

Undoubtedly, the patterns surrounding a lack of financial security can be associated with this. More worryingly, these figures expose the underlying truths affecting women and their lack of financial optimism. This, in turn, has an effect on the level of confidence expressed, forcing them to remain in a place that is comfortable.

Or just simply affordable.

Taking this into consideration, to identify the best way to resolve this outlook looking towards the income opportunities for both genders before we will be able to identify the best way to move forward.

Women and housework - financial equality

The Trend

Findings show women generally tend to have a lower paying position throughout their careers than men, especially here in Ireland with the gender pay gap being as much as 16% for in a managerial position.

This view is backed up with findings from male dominated industries such as Finance or Technology which boast higher paying salaries. To add to this blow, the limited number of women within the financial sector can expect to receive 34% less in their pay package than male co-workers.

Taking this into consideration, it’s clear to see why many women choose to stay home to provide care for their children- before the cost of daycare is even thrown into the mix.

However, this is at the expense of career progression.

Many mothers are left feeling as if they do not have an option to return to work after a period of leave, despite now having the freedom to do so. As a result, many women depend on their partner’s earnings to ensure a quality upbringing is provided for their family.

Men and women on the workplace - gender gap in salaries

The Truth

And then there’s the case of employment as a whole which doesn’t make it easier.

A report by the World Economic Forum discovered men’s salaries are nearly double of what their female counterparts earn. Contained within this is how women tend to take up lower skilled jobs favouring part-time contracts to allow for a work-life balance more suitable to their lifestyle.

With an increase in modern workplaces offering flexible contracts, does the future look brighter for Ireland’s professionals?

In the current global setting, the number of CEO positions held by women in S&P Fortune 500 companies is a mere 5.2%. Given, this figure has been reduced considerably over the past few decades, however it’s obvious we’re still a long way of gender equality – despite the amount of lip-service paid to it.

As a society, we have progressed a long way from the debate: women should not be granted executive-level positions due to the likelihood of maternity leave causing disruption to day-to-day business activities. This has been backed up by the steady growth we have seen  in the number of women in senior level positions here in Ireland since 2013.

The vision certainly appears to be a lot brighter, but it comes down to whether we can meet these expectations that will be the real test of time.

Young women more aware of their potential

Looking towards the future

What’s the real cost of financial instability? And what does it mean for our families, future and finances?

As a whole, it appears there are still many misunderstandings out there surrounding some of the more common terms of the topic of gender equality and equal pay.

Online dictionary Merriam-Webster revealed ‘feminism’ was the most widely searched term for 2017 – a 70% increase on the previous year. Another term which has surfaced around the topic is ‘gender parity’. This takes up the place of gender equality as a much more accurate and realistic measure of the current state of affairs.

Does this mean there’s more awareness of our current situation, or just more confusion?

Now, more than ever, this generation of women are becoming increasingly more informed and empowered, putting them in a position to make significant shifts in the employment landscape and taking up more confidence in their personal finances.

As we rally behind this year’s campaign for International Women’s Day, we will #PressForProgress to support the need for greater levels of financial stability.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to be proactive. Whether it’s in reviewing your earning potential, having a chat with your employer or taking control of your personal finances – it’s time for our women to take charge on what they’re worth.

Let us help you plan your future!

If you need some assistance on finding out how financially covered you are, our handy Family Protection Planner can give you an overview of your current status.


Irish Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Author: Irish Life

Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.

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