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Lawyers want pay gaps sorted out in-house
MH&C partner Vanessa Byrne

09 Jan 2020 / employment Print

Lawyers want pay gaps sorted out in-house

Most in-house lawyers in Ireland believe that the gender pay gap is because of women’s roles as mothers and carers, new research from Mason Hayes & Curran finds.

Now in its second year, the Mason Hayes & Curran survey was first carried out in 2018 among female in-house lawyers.  

The 2019 analysis surveyed both male and female lawyers.

A full 58% of women and 41% of men believe that family responsibility is the main cause of the gender pay gap.


“The divergence in pay and opportunity for females arises from motherhood, rather than us being female,” said one respondent.

“2019 saw the introduction of new parental-leave entitlements for employees in Ireland, but our survey data shows that there is still work to be done in order to encourage equality to begin at home, with men taking leave at a similar rate as women to share the caring burden,” said MH&C partner Vanessa Byrne.

There is stronger support for interventions at an organisational level rather than by Government intervention as a way to fix the pay gap, the survey finds.


The majority of respondents say that greater internal pay transparency and clearer communication from management on how pay and bonuses are determined would be the most effective ways to address the issue.

The respondents were split almost evenly on the benefit of positive discrimination measures, such as quotas, with 43% in favour and 42% against.

Female respondents view quotas differently to male respondents, with 49% of females surveyed in favour, as opposed to 22% of males surveyed.

Senior roles

In the 2018 survey, 11% of respondents reported that more than half of the senior roles in their organisation were filled by females. In 2019, this rose to 18% of respondents.

In 2018, a total of 66% of women said there was a gender pay gap in their industry. This increased to 68% in 2019, while 23% of male respondents perceived an issue with pay.

Only 23% said that their organisation had analysed the matter -- up from 21% in 2018.


The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill is likely to be enacted over the coming months, which means that many organisations will have a good deal of work to do in terms of preparing their data and communicating to their employees prior to publication,” commented Vanessa Byrne.

In last year’s survey, 50% of respondents stated that they had moved to an in-house role in order to improve their work-life balance.

Popular reason to go in-house

This year, this was once again cited as the most popular reason for switching, with 54% giving this as their reason for moving.

This was true, irrespective of gender, with 57% of female and 43% of male respondents giving this as their motivation.

This is an interesting result, as, typically, there is a perception that it is mostly women who look for work/live balance, but this is not borne out by these results.

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