Widespread Sex Discrimination Still A Major Feature of the Workplace

Gender equality remains a major challenge to Irish society .A large proportion of enquiries to the Equality Authority are based on the gender ground, according to its Chief Executive, Mr Niall Crowley. Addressing the European Women’s Foundation Seminar in UCD, entitled Women Building Democracy -2000 & Beyond, he stated that a gap continues to persist between women’s and men’s pay and women are notably under-represented in higher grade and managerial posts. Sexual harassment in Irish workplaces is widespread and pregnancy related discrimination is another
significant cause for complaint.

The implications arising from the increased numbers of women and men at work have yet to result in appropriate policy actions on the childcare front and in the provision of flexible working arrangements. The organisation of work requires greater flexibility if equality is to be realised. ” There is a need for more formal and more creative approaches to family- friendly work practices. Such practices must ensure that there is a balanced take up by both men and women and that those who avail of such opportunities do not find their career prospects diminished”.

Mr Crowley informed the audience that the Equality Authority is committed to a mainstreaming approach, where equality between women and men becomes an objective of all policy and provision. Significant developments are expected under the new National Development Plan, with gender equality as a core objective and the expenditure of £40 billion over the next six years.