Inequality in pay made headlines in the media, again, last month. The wage gap between men and women working in scientific research and development positions is the largest in the EU. Women earn a shocking 30% less than their male colleagues, research has proven.
Obviously, there is a deep-rooted inequality in relation to this. The unjust assumption that men are better at science and maths than women. And the unfairness that screams to everyone, across the globe, that our male employees are more capable, focused and dedicated than their female counterparts.
There is so much wrong with this.
However, a deeply distressing concern stemming from this inequality is that of female independence, or more specifically a lack thereof. A culture that says women are not as valued or valuable in the workforce as men, as shown through their payslip. A culture that teaches girls that no matter how educated you might be you’re still going to be faced with the same glass ceiling that women for generations have tried to break. Where women don’t earn the same as men, a culture that says you’ve gone far enough, now it’s time to give your male peers their moment of glory.
When couples consider the cost of childcare versus one parent remaining at home after maternity/paternity, it often makes more financial sense for one parent to leave the work force. Usually it is the mother who is encouraged to become the stay-at-home parent for a myriad of reasons, but the monetary benefit is a primary factor. Recent research showed that although 66% of Civil Servants are female, only 30% of those at Assistant Secretary and 20% of those at Secretary General level are women.
Women are then much more reliant on their husbands.
For generations wives had no option but to remain at home even in the most distressing of domestic violence situations. Why? Legally married women were unable to work in the public sector until 1973. More recently most women were financially dependent on their spouse and when you include children in the equation many were left with no option but to remain in a hostile home environment.
Even considering jobs stereotypically associated with women and femininity, such as nursing and teaching; senior management positions are often filled by men.
Girls display more academic prowess during their school days, indeed according to the CSO women represented 52.5% of all college graduates in Ireland in 2016.
And yet…our female peers are not acceding to the top positions in their chosen fields. The Women and Men in Ireland Report showed that out of the 454,700 people who were looking after homes, 98% were women. While working at home often far outweighs the stress and pressure found outside the home, I wonder how much influence earning less than their spouses and a lack of higher paid opportunities contributed to each of these women’s decision to work at home.
As International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March it is important to acknowledge the progress women and men have made towards achieving gender equality. However, it would be naïve to assume that journey is nearing completion. Women have so much more to offer the workforce. While women have so much more to gain from being in management roles, so too do the female and male employees they will be supervising/managing.
When we turn to the political sphere the situation is very grim. Currently Ireland is ranked 81st in the global classification table for women’s representation in parliament. It is worth noting that there are more females than males in the Irish state. How ironic it is, therefore, that our fellow women do not represent us in government?
International Women’s Day should be celebrated by all, irrespective of gender.
I wish you all a Happy International Women’s Day and I urge each and every person to continue the campaign for women’s rights.
Let’s never forget…’women’s rights are human rights.’