Yes: thanks to our backward model of genderisation and the ongoing frustration of the pay gap for women, this is the last day of the year that women will get paid for working. In other words, in comparison to the earnings of men in Ireland, we are effectively working for the next seven weeks for free. Happy Monday!
According to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the gender pay gap in Ireland sits at 14.4% ; meaning that men earn 14.4% more than women per hour worked. Throughout the EU, women currently earn 84c for every €1 men earn, and the older you are the larger and more prominent the pay gap becomes.
What is the gap and why does it exist? Unfortunately. the politics behind the gap don’t simply boil down to sexism, but rather is a volatile concoction of social, political, economic, and educational influences . For these reasons it can’t simply just ‘be fixed’. For example, even though the gap seems large in Ireland, yet if we look at minority groups in America – Hispanics and Mexicans, for example – these minority groups receive the smallest median weekly income. So the notion of simply increasing our wages is a far cry from a complex and unfair solution. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 170 years – or until 2186 – to close the economic gap entirely.
It’s time to close the gap
The Equal Pay Day campaign launches today to highlight the stress-inducing problem and will run for the month of November. Organised by Dress For Success – an Irish organisation fronted by entrepreneur and fashion designer Sonya Lennon which helps women with the professional clothing, skills, and development opportunities they needed to secure employment and achieve success – the aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the gender pay gap and raise funds to support more women back into the workforce.
On Wednesday, November 16th, the Equal Pay Day Campaign and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee will host a delegation from Dress for Success Dublin in Leinster House, where TDs and Senators will be briefed on the need for enhanced policy and legislative measures to ensure men and women receive equal pay for equal work.
What can we do about it? This article from The Journal suggests that on 4.27 this coming Friday, November 11th, women all over Ireland should walk out of work an hour early. It seems to be strike season at the minute (what with the Garda and teachers striking for equal pay), so is striking the right move? Should we stand in solidarity with our fellow sisters and simply walk off the job? If the current work strikes are anything to go by, the unions are successfully (and democratically) making positive change; apart from the brief corruption in schools etc.
Striking seems to have worked well for the women of Iceland who most recently walked out of work 14% earlier in a bid to highlight the 14% pay difference between men and women there. The walk-out happened on October 26th, 2016, 41 years after 90% of their female population stopped working for the day and effectively shut down all businesses.
When the gap does close, however, it will only be a positive outcome for women and our economy. As it stands, most high-paying and corporate roles are held by men because the gender gap widens as the pay increases. This is what’s known as the ‘glass ceiling effect’, where less than 4% of top CEO’s are women.
While the pay gap is still unquestionably high, Ireland ranks pretty well overall and comes fifth place out of 145 countries working towards closing the gap. The gap has already decreased by 2.7% since the last census in 2012 as the demand for women in sectors like tech, business, and science increases.