Experience of discrimination in terms of pay

With regard to pay, much higher proportions of women reported discrimination than had done so in the case of getting a job or job training. In 1975, 61% of Dublin women reported some degree of pay discrimination, with 36% reporting either “a fair amount” or “a great deal.”

While there was no overall significant shift in perceived pay discrimination from 1975 to 1986, there was however a trend among single women in the direction of less pay discrimination in 1986 than in 1975 (p = .093), even when other key demographic variables were controlled. In percentage terms, 68% of single women from Dublin reported some degree of pay discrimination in 1975, whereas in 1986 only 53% did so. This indicates that some shift in a positive direction took place during the decade following the implementation of the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act; however, much discrimination in this area was still felt.

In both 1975 and 1986 there was a trend which revealed that younger women (18-34) were more likely to report pay discrimination than older women (35-65) (p = .06) - see Table 5.2.

Rural women were less likely than urban women to report pay discrimination, yet greater proportions reported discrimination in this area than in the other areas. Thirty-four per cent of rural women reported some degree of pay discrimination (as compared with 58% of urban women). Among rural women, married women were more likely to report pay discrimination (42%) than single women were (27%).

Discrimination in terms of kind of work or quality of work experience

In 1975, 42% of employed Dublin women reported some degree of discrimination in terms of the kind of work or quality of work experience given to them (as women), as opposed to that given to other workers. This proportion remained fairly stable from 1975 to 1986 and married and single women did not differ appreciably from each other (Table 5.Id).

There was a significant effect of social class in both 1975 and 1986 indicating that employed Dublin women of lower socio-economic background experienced more discrimination in terms of the kind of work or quality of work experience given to them than women of higher socio-economic background (see Table 5.2).

Rural women in 1986 reported somewhat less discrimination in this area than did Dublin women, with just 29% reporting some degree of discrimination in terms of kind of work or quality of work given to them. Married rural women were somewhat more likely to report discrimination (33%) than single women (25%); however those single women who reported it were more likely to report “a fair amount” or “a great deal,” rather than “some extent” or “very little” (see Table 5.Id).

Discrimination in terms of promotion

A fairly sizeable proportion of employed Dublin women (34%) reported discrimi-nation in the area of promotion in 1975. Twenty-eight per cent of married women did so and 47% of single women. By 1986 the proportion of married women reporting discrimination in this area increased to 47% whereas the proportion of single women decreased somewhat to 42% (Table 5. le). This interaction effect between marital status and year was statistically significant (F = 4.18; p < .05).

As in the case of the previous variables, rural women in 1986 reported somewhat less discrimination in the area of promotion than did urban women. The overall percentage reporting any discrimination in this area was 28%, with the proportion of married women being somewhat higher (32%) than that of single women (25%) (Table 5. le).

Discrimination by the educational system

Apart from examining discrimination in the workplace itself, women were also asked whether they thought they had been discriminated against as women by the educational system. In its commentary on and recommendations concerning the report Schooling and Sex Roles (Hannan et al., 1983), the Employment Equality Agency noted that the statutory responsibility of the agency “has to take account of those factors which determine access to and achievement in employment” (Employment Equality Agency, 1983, p. 10). The recognition of the vital importance of education in this regard was an impetus for initiating the Hannan et al. study, which documented the existence of unequal opportunity for girls in the educational system. In the commentary on the report, Tansey points out:

The extent of sex differentiation is deeply institutionalised in the ideological and cultural presumptions underlying the education system. Provision, allocation and choice are influenced by the “hidden curriculum” which reflects the attitudes and values which are dominant in society, and clearly reflected in the schools.

(Tansey, 1983, p. 34)

It is in this sense that the question concerning discrimination by the educational system was put to respondents in both the 1975 and 1986 studies. In 1975

relatively few of the employed Dublin women were aware of having been discrim-inated against by the educational system, with only 18% expressing any degree of discrimination in this area, and differences between married and single women were slight. However, by 1986 this level rose rather dramatically. Overall, 47% reported some level of discrimination by the educational system (Table 5.If). This figure reflected a higher proportion of married women (55%) than single women (38%). As may be seen in Table 5.2, this increase in perceived discrimi-nation from 1975 to 1986 was the most significant trend observed concerning women’s perceptions of discrimination over this period (F = 22.19; p < .001).

While we do not have rural data for 1975, the 1986 data revealed a rather high level of perceived discrimination by the educational system on the part of rural women (with 33% reporting some level of discrimination - 35% of married and 30.5% of single women - see Table 5.1e).

Summary and discussion

The data have revealed that in each of the areas studied, proportions ranging from 15% to 58% of employed women reported experiencing some level of discrimination in 1986. The extent of discrimination varied from “very little” to “a great deal” and the reader is invited to examine Table 5.1 in detail concerning these variations. As Table 5.2 revealed, there were no significant shifts in the direction of less discrimination from 1975 to 1986, overall; however, there was a tendency for single women to experience less discrimination in the area of pay in 1986 than in 1975, which may indicate some initial positive effects of the Equal Pay legislation. There was also a reduction in single women’s experienced discrimination in the area of promotion, though this was counterbalanced by an increase in perceived discrimination by married women.

Two of the areas examined showed an overall increase in perceived discrimination from 1975 to 1986: (1) that of getting a job and (2) that experienced in the educational system.

It is unlikely that discriminatory practices increased during this period, particularly in view of the equality legislation introduced in 1975 and 1977. Therefore, the findings suggest that women’s awareness of discrimination was undoubtedly heightened during this period. This was probably due to discussion in the media of the equality legislation and related issues associated with the U.N. Decade for Women (1975-1985). Coverage in the media of the report on Schooling and Sex Roles by Hannan et al. (1983) may also have had an effect on women’s awareness of discrimination by the educational system. Further, the then Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey, who held office from 1983 to 1986, addressed the problem of sex-role stereotyping in textbooks, which also obtained media coverage. This too may have affected public awareness of discrimination in schools.

These results should, therefore, not be disturbing in and of themselves, since it may be necessary to achieve an awareness of a problem before one can do something to remedy it.

 
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