A Comparative Analysis: Gender Equality in the Labour Force Participation of the UK and Ireland

We recently shared an article on our Linkedin page which addressed the fact that the current president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has signed a monumental bill into law granting equal pay to male and female workers for the same job position. Over the last number of years under their previous governance, Brazil was known for its corruption, human rights and equality issues and environmental destruction, have they turned the corner and is this bill something that countries like Ireland and the UK should be signing into law too? Let’s look at a comparison in how both countries currently fare when it comes to gender equality. 

In recent years, the UK and Ireland have made significant strides in promoting gender equality, particularly in the context of labor force participation and legislation with Ireland now requiring all companies with over 250 employees to publish an annual report showing the extent of the pay gap between male and female employees. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of the current state of gender equality in the labor force of both countries, shedding light on the progress made and the challenges that remain.

Gender equality is a fundamental aspect of any inclusive society. It encompasses equal opportunities, rights, and treatment for people of all genders, including within the labor market. Achieving gender equality in labor force participation involves addressing issues such as pay gaps, occupational segregation, and work-life balance.

Gender Equality in the UK

The United Kingdom has made substantial progress in improving gender equality within the labor force. Currently, the female labor force participation rate stands at around 72%, demonstrating a significant increase in recent decades. This rise can be attributed to various factors, including advancements in gender equality legislation, increased educational opportunities for women, and changing societal attitudes.

Despite these achievements, challenges persist. Gender pay gaps persist across industries and occupations, highlighting the need for further action. Occupational segregation remains a concern, with women being underrepresented in higher-paying fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Additionally, women often face difficulties balancing work and family responsibilities, which can hinder career progression.

Gender Equality in Ireland

Ireland has also made notable progress in promoting gender equality in the labor force. The female labor force participation rate currently stands at approximately 72%, mirroring that of the UK. This increase can be attributed to similar factors, such as legislative reforms and increased access to education and employment opportunities for women.

However, gender equality challenges persist in Ireland as well. Gender pay gaps remain a concern, with women earning less than men on average. Occupational segregation is prevalent, with women being underrepresented in leadership roles and certain industries. Encouragingly, recent initiatives aim to address these issues, such as the introduction of gender pay gap reporting requirements for larger companies which has made companies/organisations more accountable to pay gap targets.

Both the UK and Ireland have recognised the importance of gender equality and have taken steps to address existing disparities. Some key measures include:

Legislation: Both countries have enacted legislation to promote gender equality in the workplace, including laws against discrimination and promoting equal pay.

Educational Initiatives: Efforts to provide equal access to education and encourage girls and women to pursue traditionally male-dominated fields have been crucial in narrowing the gender gap.

Parental Leave Policies: The introduction of policies supporting parental leave, flexible working arrangements, and affordable childcare can help address the challenges faced by working parents.

Corporate Initiatives: Encouraging private sector companies to implement policies and practices that promote gender equality, such as transparent recruitment processes and flexible work options, can drive positive change.

The UK and Ireland have made significant progress in advancing gender equality in the labor force. However, challenges remain, including gender pay gaps, occupational segregation, and work-life balance issues. To further enhance gender equality, both countries must continue their efforts to address these issues comprehensively. By implementing robust legislation, promoting equal educational opportunities, and encouraging supportive workplace policies, the UK and Ireland can continue to pave the way towards a more inclusive and equal society for all genders.


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