Why more women are unemployed than men

By Suhasini Srinivasaragavan

A CSO report released on 1 March showed an overall reduction in unemployment levels. However, the report added that on average, more women are still unemployed than men. 

John Mullane, a statistician in the labour market analysis section at CSO said that in January, the unemployment rate for males was 4.0 per cent, while for females, it was 4.7 per cent. Furthermore, the seasonally adjusted rate for women remained and still remains unchanged for months, while the rate dropped for men.

However, in total, 116,500 persons are unemployed as per the latest data, an improvement of close to 6,000 since this time last year. Ciarán Nugent, an economist with the Nevin Economic Research Institute said that the unemployment rate has been coming down and is at a “good level”.
Seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate

The gendered Irish workforce

“There’s always a gap between men and women, and there’s especially a big gap in Ireland as compared to other European countries,” said Mr Nugent, adding that this gap widens when families have children. “Women in their thirties or forties tend to drop out of the labour market”. He said that this is because familial roles in Ireland are still highly gendered.

Childrearing is an economic activity, according to many sociologists. Mr Nugent said that “economics as a discipline tends not to look at motherhood as an economic activity because there is no clear monetary value to it”. However, he added that “there is obviously an economic value to raising children as they are producing future workers. They are training and socialising future workers…this is clearly a very valuable”.

“This is unfortunately also the case in calculating GDP as well”, Mr Nugent said. 

Mr Nugent pointed out that “the unemployment rate does not actually count all those who are unemployed, rather only the people who are actively seeking work”. He added that “men are more likely to be seeking work than women”, adding to flaws in the composition of many statistical reports.



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