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Gender Equality in the Irish Labour Market 1966-2016: Unfinished Business?


  • Helen Russell

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin)

  • Frances McGinnity

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin)

  • Philip J. O’Connell

    (UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)


This paper formed part of the conference to mark 50 years of social research at the ESRI. It provides an overview of gender equality in the labour market in Ireland over a 50-year period. It takes as its starting point two studies published by ESRI researchers in the early 1970s including a survey of women carried out in 1973. Five themes are identified in these early studies, which are then carried through to the current period. These are: patterns of female labour force participation; gender segregation; sectoral labour demand; attitudes; and appropriate policy responses. The study then outlines how many of the normative, legislative and institutional constraints to women’s employment were removed during the following decades and discusses key educational and fertility trends that influenced labour force participation. Policy responses have also shifted over the period. We find that while there has been distinct change in the normative culture, a major upward shift in the scale of female employment, and a decline in gender segregation, women’s and men’s employment remains strongly gendered.

Suggested Citation

  • Helen Russell & Frances McGinnity & Philip J. O’Connell, 2017. "Gender Equality in the Irish Labour Market 1966-2016: Unfinished Business?," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 48(4), pages 393-418.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:48:y:2017:i:4:p:393-418

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Doris, Aedin, 2001. "The Changing Responsiveness of Labour Supply during the 1990s," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2001(4-Decembe), pages 1-14.
    2. Sara Connolly & Mary Gregory, 2009. "The part-time pay penalty: earnings trajectories of British Women," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(suppl_1), pages 76-97, April.
    3. Francesca Bettio, 2002. "The Pros and Cons of Occupational Gender Segregation in Europe," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 65-84, May.
    4. Brendan M. Walsh, 1971. "Aspects of labour supply and demand, with special reference to the employment of women in Ireland," Open Access publications 10197/1483, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext202 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Emer Smyth, 1999. "Educational Inequalities Among School Leavers in Ireland 1979-1994," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 30(3), pages 267-284.
    7. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext29 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Keane, Claire & Russell, Helen & Smyth, Emer, 2017. "Female participation increases and gender segregation," Papers WP564, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    9. Tim Callan & Arthur van Soest & John R. Walsh, 2009. "Tax Structure and Female Labour Supply: Evidence from Ireland," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(1), pages 1-35, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Doorley, Karina, 2018. "Taxation, Work and Gender Equality in Ireland," IZA Discussion Papers 11495, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    gender equality; labour markets; Ireland;


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