Average pay for men higher than for women in all but one of 15 Government departments

Reports cover about 20,000 directly employed staff on a wide range of Civil Service grades

Men are paid a higher average hourly rate than women in all but one of 15 Government departments which have published gender pay gap reports in recent weeks.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth reported a mean gender gap for the year to June 2022 of minus 3.6, indicating the women were receiving a higher amount per hour on average than their male counterparts.

All 14 of the others to file reports indicated higher hourly averages for male employees, indicating men occupying the bulk of better paid positions. However, the gaps at all but four departments – Transport, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Environment – come in at below the most recent Eurostat figure for Ireland’s average pay gap across all sectors of the workforce of 11.3 per cent.

At 20.4 per cent, the Department of Transport’s figure is the highest, with men earning on average more than €5 an hour than women. However, the department says its results are skewed by more than a fifth of its staff being on “professional and technical grades” with some 94 per cent of these staff being men.


Others, like the Departments of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs note the progress made since 2013 with Agriculture reporting its gap has narrowed from 20.5 per cent to 9.48 per cent and Foreign Affairs saying its gap has more than halved from just over 30 per cent to 13.87 per cent.

“Overall, we think the Government departments are doing well,” said Mary Connaughton, director Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

“This is a European trend whereby the public sector reports on gender pay gap are lower than the private sector.

“They tend to have better flexible working practices which support women in the workplace, their promotions would go through proper processes like the Public Appointments Commission and then their salary scales are very transparent and in terms of the pay scale that you’re on. These are all things that seem to contribute to keeping the gender pay gap lower,” she said.

Overall, the 15 reports published by Government departments cover around 20,000 directly employed staff on a wide range of Civil Service grades.

With organisations legally obliged to pay men and women the same money for performing the same roles, what the gender pay gap reports tend to primarily indicate is the representation of the different genders at various levels within organisations and also the extent to which they avail of part-time working and other “family friendly” policies.

On the first front, women form a majority of those among the lowest paid quarter of employees in 11 of the 15 departments while men are a majority among the best paid quarter in eight with another, the Department of Health, split 50/50 under this heading.

Women do, however, hold a majority of the very highest level jobs in a number of departments.

As in many private companies, several of the departments that provide commentary on their results highlight the greater presence of women among their ranks of part-time workers and their greater participation in “family friendly” initiatives as contributory factors to the results. Although no breakdown is generally provided for the latter, the figures for part-time working are striking with 252 of the 264 part-time workers in Education being women, for instance.

In Agriculture the corresponding figure is 427 of 493, in Enterprise 110 of 124 and in Social Protection 927 of 1,024.

More than two thirds of staff in the Department of Defence are women but the department’s report indicates that 93 per cent of Defence Forces members and 82 per cent of its support staff are men. It is, is says, implementing policies to recruit more women into the Defence Forces with a current target of 35 per cent woman participation.

An Garda Síochána reported that 72 per cent of its members were men while 72 per cent of civilian staff were women. The respective mean gender pay gaps were 4.81 per cent and 2.67 per cent, both in favour of men.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times