Degrees of Equality: Gender Pay Differentials Among Recent Graduates


Degrees of Equality: Gender Pay Differentials Among Recent Graduates

Embargo: 00:01 a.m. Tuesday 29 November 2005.
By Helen Russell, Emer Smyth and Philip J. O’Connell (ESRI).
Published by the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Members of the Media are invited to attend the launch of the above report by Minister of State Frank Fahey on Tuesday 29 November, 2005 at Government Buildings, at 10.30 a.m.

A new study commissioned by the Equality Division of the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform and carried out by the ESRI shows that gender differences in pay and other rewards emerge among highly educated men and women just three years after graduation. The study draws on a new national representative survey of over 2000 recent graduates from third level institutions in Ireland.

Key Findings

  • There are strong gender differences in the occupations of graduates three years after graduation: 26% of male graduates enter the public sector compared to 41 % of female graduates. Occupational differences reflect highly gendered patterns of subject choice at third level.
  • Female graduates are found to earn 11 per cent less per week than male graduates
  • Female graduates worked fewer hours per week (38 hours) than male graduates (41 hours) so this weekly pay gap did not translate into an overall hourly gender pay gap
  • Within the private sector female graduates were found to earn 8% less per hour than male graduates. Within the public sector there was no significant gender difference in hourly pay.
  • A higher proportion of men than women have received bonuses from their employers in the last 12 months. 42% of male graduates received bonuses compared to 32% of female graduates. This was mainly but not entirely due to men’s higher concentration in the private sector.
  • The value of bonuses received was 25% higher among male graduates.
  • Subject choice and working in female-dominated occupations are found to play a significant role in the gender pay gap in the private sector.
  • Men in the private sector also receive higher rewards for their qualifications and better returns to previous experience, which could not be explained by difference in personal, educational or organisational characteristics and points to the possibility of indirect discrimination.

Speaking at the launch, Frank Fahy, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform said, “from the Department’s point of view, with its overall responsibility for gender equality, we will be looking at these findings and the broad range of other factors which impact on gender pay levels. I want Ireland to narrow that pay gap to become one of the best in Europe, rather than the EU average”.

Dr Helen Russell one of the authors of the report said, “This is a section of the labour force where we would least expect to find a gender pay gap. The study shows that the pay gap begins to open up very early in men and women’s careers and factors such as subject choice and early career integration play a role in this process”

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