Irish female professionals only hold a quarter of C-Suite roles, with women also underrepresented across the board at managerial and senior levels.
New data from LinkedIn for this year’s International Women’s Day show how underrepresented across board, managerial and senior levels women are in the Irish business world.
This gender divide remains at risk of being embedded in the world of work, as less than a third (31%) of leadership roles in Ireland are held by female workers according to the data.
“Tackling the gender leadership gap comes down to sowing the seeds of change to help women at the early stages of their career thrive and flourish as they rise up the career ladder”
At entry level, 46% of roles in Ireland are held by women. Climbing up the seniority ladder, the share of women in Ireland holding manager roles drops slightly to 42%. This drops steeply at leadership level, with only 31% of senior roles in Ireland held by women. A gender leadership gap is evident across all sectors of the economy, with the sole exception of Hospitals and Healthcare where women achieve parity by holding 50% of senior leadership roles, although female representation is 70% at entry level in the sector.
Who is minding the gap?
“Ireland has made real strides in its drive towards gender equality in the workplace over the past number of decades, but clearly a lot of work still needs to be done,” said Sharon McCooey, head of LinkedIn in Ireland (pictured).
“It’s not that long ago when my own mother’s role as a nurse was impacted by the marriage bar. Its repeal had a transformative effect. In one generation, Ireland went from banning married women from work, to electing a married woman as President.”
Many sectors where women are employed in roles at director level and above in Ireland see a falloff when it comes to leadership positions. Examples include:
- Retail: 16% leadership gap (overall female representation in the workforce 51% vs leadership female representation 35%)
- Real estate: 15% leadership gap (overall female representation in the workforce 39% vs leadership female representation 24%)
- Professional services: 12% leadership gap (overall female representation in the workforce 43% vs leadership female representation 31%)
- Financial services: 12% leadership gap (overall female representation in the workforce 44% vs leadership female representation 32%)
- Manufacturing: 10% leadership gap (overall female representation in the workforce 35% vs leadership female representation 25%)
The research also found that demand for remote roles by women remains high, with almost one in four (23%) job applications by Irish female workers targeting hybrid working opportunities on average in 2022. Overall this points to a need for organisations across Ireland to focus on inclusive hiring practices, boosting internal promotion rates, and flexible working practices in order to retain female talent and support career growth.
Practical measures include establishing diverse slates of candidates during hiring processes, eliminating bias from job descriptions, and including women on interview panels. For women moving up the career ladder, this should also entail developing specialised mentoring and training programmes. In order to recruit a broad talent pool, flexible work arrangements must become the standard and be made available to all employees, not just women.
“Tackling the gender leadership gap comes down to sowing the seeds of change to help women at the early stages of their career thrive and flourish as they rise up the career ladder,” McCooey said.
“There are plenty of progressive actions organisations can commit to, for example embedding flexible working in their culture, advocating for the female talent within their organisation and building out a team that is reflective of Irish society.”