Is the low number of Irish mothers working down to culture?
A Labour Force Survey has found 61% of Irish women are participating in the workforce, compared to 70.6% of men.
The gender imbalance was attributed to the lower number of mothers who work - there was little difference between the participation rates of childless men and women.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, host Ciara Kelly said the issue may be down to Irish societal pressure and norms.
“[Among] the rest of our OECD and EU partners, the rate of mothers in the workforce in those countries is much higher,” she told listeners.
“It got us thinking this morning as to why that might be?
“I think, certainly, childcare is an issue here; in other EU countries, childcare tends to be more accessible and State-provided.
“So, in other words it’s cheap, so it’s not a barrier to working.
“Here in particular, we’ve noticed it’s low-paid mothers who are outside the workforce… but I do wonder is there a cultural thing here.”
Bunreacht na hÉireann
The Irish Constitution recognises “that by her life within the home, [a] woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”
Although the Government has committed itself to a referendum on removing that clause from the Constitution, Ciara wondered if we are still living in its shadow?
“Do we have some kind of a legacy from how we view motherhood, how we view family?" she said.
“I don’t know [and] by the way, I’m not saying that in any kind of a judgement way, that that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m wondering is there more than childcare going on?
“Is it an Irish socio-cultural thing as well?”
Co-presenter Shane said he was inclined to agree with that analysis.
“Is it a Catholic cultural thing? I think possibly it is and it’ll be interesting because by next year we will have had a 50% cut in the cost of childcare,” he said.
“So, it’ll be interesting to see, does it make a massive difference?
“Obviously, it will make a massive difference economically to people who currently have kids in childcare.
“But I wonder will it make a massive difference in terms of participation levels in the workforce?”
Main image: Split of a mother and child and Ciara Kelly.