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Welcome to the 2016 edition and tenth publication of Women and Men in Ireland. 

The progress indicators used in this report were chosen because they help to:

  • Identify important gender differences in the activities of men and women;
  • Assist users to identify the underlying reasons that explain these differences;
  • Present the situation in Ireland in an international context.


This web-based edition of Women and Men in Ireland is organised so that the 73 indicators are presented in five themes:



            Social cohesion and lifestyles



Most indicators are presented in both a national and international context. The national context in generally in a time series format while the international context compares Ireland with other EU countries, and where available with three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and five countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) who were official EU candidate countries in 2016.

In cases where tables are not sorted by year, the ranking variable is highlighted with a darker background. The appendices describe the indicator definitions and data sources in greater detail. Where a graph and/or map is available for an indicator this will be indicated below the text for that indicator.


Ten key facts

Irish women are more likely to have a third-level qualification than men, with over half (55.1%) of women aged 25-34 having a third-level qualification in 2016 compared to just 42.9% of men in this age group.

Men work longer hours than women in paid employment. In 2016 men worked an average of 39.7 hours a week in paid employment compared to 31.7 hours for women.

Men have a higher rate of employment. The male employment rate in 2016 was 69.9%, over 10 percentage points higher than the female rate of 59.5%.

Men also have a higher rate of unemployment with a rate of 9.8% in 2016 which was above the rate of 7.1% for women.

Most workers in the Health and the Education sectors were women in 2016 while most workers in Agriculture, Construction and Transport are men.

Irish women have the second highest fertility rate in the EU at 1.92 in 2015.

The vast majority (98%) of those who were looking after home/family in 2016 were women.

However, the number of men looking after home/family nearly doubled in the 10 years up to 2016, rising from 4,900 to 9,200.

Less than a quarter (22.2%) of TDs in Dáil Éireann were women in 2016.

Four out of every five people committed to prison in 2014 were men.


Employment: The employment rate in Ireland for women in 2016 was 59.5%, over 10 percentage points lower than the male employment rate of 69.9%. The employment rates for both men and women in Ireland in 2016 were below the EU average rates.

Men worked an average of 39.7 hours a week in paid employment in 2016 compared to 31.7 hours for women. Married men worked longer hours in paid employment than married women, with more than half of married men (50.7%) working for 40 or more hours per week compared with 18.1% of married women. (Tables 2.1, 2.8 and 2.9)

Unemployment: The unemployment rate for men was 9.8% in Ireland in 2016, above the female rate of 7.1%. Unemployment rates were higher several years ago for both men and women but have decreased in recent years. In 2012 the male rate of unemployment peaked at 18.2% while the female rate was at its highest in 2013 at 11.4%.

The unemployment rate of young people aged 20-24 in Ireland is about twice the national average rate. The unemployment rate for young men aged 20-24 was 18.9% in 2016, nearly twice the average rate for men of 9.8%, while the rate for young women was 14.3%, more than twice the average rate for women of 7.1%.

The rate of unemployment for men in Ireland in 2016 at 9.8% was higher than the EU average of 8.4% while the female rate of 7.1% was lower than the EU average of 8.7%. (Tables 2.11, 2.12, 2.13)

Education: The early school leavers' rate among women aged 18-24 in 2016 was 4.8%, lower than the rate of 8% for men. More girls than boys sat higher level papers in the Leaving Certificate exams in English, French, Irish, Biology, Chemistry, Art, Home Economics and Music in 2016. More boys than girls took the higher level papers in Mathematics, Physics, Construction studies, Design and communication graphics and Engineering.

More than four out of five (82.4%) graduates in Engineering, manufacturing and construction were male in 2016 while 79.3% of graduates in Information and Communication Technologies were male. Women represented more than three out of four (76.4%) graduates in Health and welfare and 71.4% of graduates in Education. Women are more likely to have a third-level qualification, with over half (55.1%) of women aged 25-34 having a third-level qualification in 2016 compared to just 42.9% of men in this age group. (Tables 3.6, 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4)

Decision-making:  Women are significantly under-represented in decision-making structures in Ireland at both national and regional levels. Less than a quarter (22.2%) of TDs in Dáil Éireann were women in 2016 and they accounted for only 21.4% of members of local authorities. The average female representation in national parliaments in the EU in 2016 was 28.7%. (Tables 3.10 and 3.11)

Population: The fertility rate in Ireland, at 1.92, was the second highest rate in the EU in 2015 after France and well above the EU average of 1.58. The average age at which women gave birth to their first child rose from 24.8 years in 1975 to 30.5 years in 2014. Ireland had 98 men per 100 women in 2016. This masks differences in age groups: at younger ages, there are more boys than girls (as more boys are born), there are fewer men in the 25-34 age group as more men have emigrated in recent years and at older ages there are more women, (as women live longer). For the age group aged 85 and over, there are 52 men per 100 women. (Tables 1.1, 1.5 and 1.6)

Migration: In 2007 immigration to Ireland peaked at 80,000 for men and 71,100 for women. Immigration for both sexes declined between 2008 and 2010 and then gradually increased between 2011 and 2017. In 2017 there were 42,700 male immigrants and 41,900 female immigrants. The number of male emigrants increased between 2007 and 2012, rising from 25,700 to 45,900 before declining in recent year to 34,200 in 2017. The number of female emigrants increased between 2007 and 2013, from 20,600 to 39,700 before dropping to 30,600 in 2017.

Net migration, the number of immigrants less the number of emigrants, was positive between 2007 and 2009 but turned negative between 2010 and 2014 before turning positive again over the last three years. (Tables 1.3 and 1.4)

Life and death: Life expectancy at birth for women in Ireland was 83.4 years in 2015, 3.8 years above the male life expectancy of 79.6 years. Female life expectancy in Ireland was similar to the EU average while male life expectancy was 1.7 years above the EU average. Men are more likely to die at a younger age then women, with the difference in risk particularly high in the 15-24 age group. This reflects higher death rates for males due to suicide and motor vehicles accidents. (Tables 1.13, 5.2, 5.3 and 5.5)

Gender Equality Index: Ireland was eighth highest in the EU on the Gender Equality Index in 2015 with a score of 69.5, where 1 indicates total inequality and 100 indicates gender equality. This was above the EU average of 66.2. (Table 1.7)

Principal Economic Status: Men were more likely to be in the labour force than women in Ireland in 2016, with nearly seven out of ten men aged 15 and over at work or unemployed, compared to about half of women. The vast majority (98%) of those who were looking after home/family in 2016 were women. However the number of men looking after home/family nearly doubled in the 10 years up to 2016, rising from 4,900 to 9,200. (Table 3.1)

Economic sectors: Over a third of women at work in Ireland in 2016 were working in the health and education sectors. The sectors with the highest proportions of men in 2016 were construction, agriculture, and transport.

Women accounted for over four out of five employees in the health sector, 87% of primary teachers and 71% of secondary teachers. However, the proportions of women at senior levels in education and health are lower, with women accounting for 39% of medical and dental consultants, 59% of primary school managers and 44% of second level school managers. (Tables 2.7, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.14)

Income and poverty: The Gender Pay Gap (GPG) was 13.9% in Ireland in 2014, below the rate of 16.7% in the EU. The proportion of men at risk of poverty in 2015 was 15%, the same rate as for women. At risk of poverty rates were much lower for those in employment at 6% for men and 4% for women in 2015. (Tables 3.2 and 3.4) 

Crime: There were 12,853 persons committed to prison under sentence in 2014, of whom one in five were women. (Tables 1.8)

Health: Men and women aged 18 to 24 in Ireland have the highest rates of binge drinking in the EU. More than a quarter of men and 15.5% of women aged 18 to 24 in Ireland engaged in binge drinking at least once a week in 2014, where binge drinking is defined as six or more standard drinks in one session, which is the equivalent of three pints of beer or six pub measures of spirits.

Just under a quarter (23.9%) of males in Ireland aged 15 and over were smokers in 2014 compared with a fifth of females. Close to two-thirds (63.1%) of men aged 18 and over in Ireland were overweight in 2014 while just under half (48.4%) of women in Ireland were overweight. (Tables 5.15, 5.16 and 5.17)


Technical notes 

While many of the national data are compiled by the CSO, we have also used survey and administrative data holdings held by Government departments and agencies wherever appropriate and possible. The data in the tables and graphs reflect the national and international data availability position during the summer of 2017.

Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) results for all years are presented for Q2 (quarter two). 

The following symbols are used:

: data not available.

*data not reliable.

Some tables which use QNHS data as their data source have parentheses ( i.e., [ ] ), around data in cells which are based on samples of between 30 to 49 persons as they are considered to have a wider margin of error and thus they should be treated with caution.

Two new tables, 3.19 and 3.20, containing data on income liable for social insurance were added to this report on 15 January 2018.


For further information contact:
Helen Cahill +353 1 4984253 or Rosaleen White +353 21 4535014

or Information Section, Central Statistics Office, Skehard Road, Cork  T12 X00E

Phone +353 21 453 5036
Fax +353 21 453 5555