The figures (based on 2010 data) were released by the European Commission this week to mark the second annual European Equal Pay Day (March 2nd). The good news is that the pay gap is lessening overall – but only marginally.
Previous years showed a 17 per cent gender pay gap across Europe. Now it ranges from around 2 per cent in Poland to more than 27 per cent in Estonia. Ireland has a below average pay difference between women and men at around 15.5 per cent. Some Member States, however, saw the pay difference widen, such as Bulgaria, France, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.
The right to equality and particularly equal pay for equal work is not a new concept by any means. In fact, the principle has been incorporated in EU Treaties since 1957. However, it is very clear that the practice is not widely in place.
Another related issue is the type of work opportunities available to women and the discrimination or sexism that often exists in certain sectors.
Equality will only truly exist when all men and women are treated equally and employers incorporate that into the workplace code of conduct. It is about changing attitudes and eliminating negative gender stereotypes and focusing on the character, talent and abilities of staff members – despite their gender.
We will celebrate the capabilities of women and the role women have played in the EU at a special seminar event to mark International Women’s Day (Friday, March 8th). The event in Dublin will focus on the last 40 years of Ireland’s EU membership.
In conjunction with the National Women’s Council of Ireland, I will co-host the seminar and will be joined by a range of inspirational and notable women who have a wide experience of the EU.
Science was once viewed as a traditionally male-dominated industry but thanks to a positive educational environment, all students are encouraged and supported in seeking out a career in the sector.
I met some of Louth’s youngest scientific minds on Friday last. At Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) I was delighted to meet with the students who had all participated in the Young Scientist competition in Dublin.
The idea for a Louth exhibition was the brain child of my Fine Gael colleague, Senator Jim Darcy who is hugely committed to education and science.
It is always important to acknowledge the efforts and ambitions of young people and the DKiT exhibition allowed young students from the county to see what other students are doing and to hopefully be inspired.
It was also great that Louise Phelan of PayPal spoke to the students about the future.
Interestingly her advice was very sound – no spelling errors in CVs and be careful of what you put up on Facebook – it’s the stuff that mammies constantly advise on and don’t get listened too…but coming from a major employer the words will be heeded, I expect!
Boyne Valley Drive
Now that Spring is around the corner, we can look forward to taking in the local scenery of counties Meath and Louth thanks to a new driving route launched by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, recently.
Supported with ‚ā¨220,000 in funding, the Boyne Valley Drive is 225 km long and takes you on the trail of 22 historic sites. Those who take advantage of the new route will enjoy Br√ļ Na B√≥inne, the UNESCO World Heritage sites at Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Trim Castle, Monasterboice, Slane Castle and Mellifont Abbey to name but a few.
It was launched by F√°ilte Ireland in conjunction with the local authorities in Meath and Louth.
The website encourages people to pace themselves while drinking alcohol and provides information on weekend events, places to go and things to do that are free of charge.
It promotes a very positive message and gives website users some nice suggestions for activity-filled weekends without an irresponsible reliance on alcohol. The message is simple – don’t throw your weekend down the drain with too much alcohol.