Why Understanding the Pay Gap is Key to Gender Equality at Work

This is the second of five events in The Solutions Series, taking place as part of the 2020 WorkEqual campaign.

The 9th November (the date of this event) marks the date on which women in Ireland effectively stop earning, relative to men, because of the gender pay gap – Equal Pay Day.

This event will be introduced by Sonya Lennon, founder of the WorkEqual campaign.

The panel will be chaired by Senator Ivana Bacik and will explore ‘Why Understanding the Pay Gap is Key to Gender Equality at Work.’

Our panellists include:

  • Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS;
  • Laura Jones, Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership; and
  • Emma Kerins, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Chambers Ireland.
  • Sonja Yr Thorbergsdottir, Chair of BSRB (The Icelandic Federation of State and Municipal Employees).

The WorkEqual campaign is an initiative of the Dress for Success Dublin charity, and is sponsored by Permanent TSB and SOLAS.


09 Nov 2020


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

More Info

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  • Andrew Brownlee
    Andrew Brownlee

    Andrew Brownlee is CEO at SOLAS, the national state agency for further education, training and apprenticeships. At SOLAS, he has played a key role in putting in place a strategic performance framework to drive the development of the sector, in implementing reforms to support a more integrated system and in developing a new 5 year FET strategy which has set out an ambitious new vision for its next critical phase of development. He joined SOLAS from the Higher Education Authority, where he was Head of System Funding and led the establishment of a comprehensive governance framework and the reform of higher education funding. Prior to joining the public sector he had a long and distinguished career in management consultancy, working for PwC, PA Consulting and Fitzpatrick Associates, developing strategy and managing change for a diverse range of clients, with a particular focus on the education and skills sector.

  • Emma Kerins
    Emma Kerins
    Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Chambers Ireland

    Having worked with Chambers Ireland since 2014, Emma was appointed Head of Policy and Public Affairs in 2018.

    Prior to working in Chambers Ireland, Emma worked as a political assistant in the Houses of the Oireachtas, as a project co-ordinator with the National Women’s Council of New Zealand and as a researcher for a number of human rights NGOs in Australia and Northern Ireland.

    She holds an LLM from Queen’s University Belfast and an LLB in Law and European Studies from the University of Limerick. She also holds a postgraduate diploma from the PRII in Public Relations. Her areas of interest include inclusion and diversity in the workplace, international trade and sustainable development.

    Outside of her work with Chambers Ireland, Emma is a Director/Trustee with the YMCA Dublin.

  • Laura Jones
    Laura Jones
    Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women's Leadership

    Laura Jones is a Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, where she works across a range of social policy areas, with a focus on gender equality.

    Her recent projects include research for the UK Government Equalities Office into the barriers to women’s progression in the workplace, a study on women’s representation at different stages of engineering education, and research into bullying and harassment in the research and innovation sector.

    She holds a degree in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge and a masters in Social Research Methods from Goldsmiths, University of London, where her dissertation examined the factors affecting first-time mothers’ post-natal work patterns.

  • Senator Ivana Bacik
    Senator Ivana Bacik
    Oireachtas Senator and Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at TCD

    Senator Ivana Bacik is the Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin. She is a qualified Barrister, and a Senior Lecturer and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. Her research interests include criminal law; criminology; feminist theory of law; and equality law.

    Ivana is a Senator for Dublin University. She was first elected in 2007, and was subsequently re-elected in 2011, 2016 and 2020.

    She was Chairperson of the Oireachtas Vótáil 100 Committee, organising a programme of events in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland. She was also on the Executive of the Together for Yes campaign in the successful referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment in May 2018.

    She is the Labour Party’s spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration.

  • Sonja Yr Thorbergsdottir
    Sonja Yr Thorbergsdottir
    Chair of BSRB (The Icelandic Federation of State and Municipal Employees)

    Sonja was elected chairwoman of BSRB, the Icelandic Federation of State and Municipal Employees, in 2018. Before that time she worked as a lawyer for BSRB with a focus on gender equality. She has worked as an adjunct at Bifrost University and a lecturer at Reykjavik University in labor law.

    BSRB works with various actors on projects and reports related to gender equality, for example on #metoo, sexual and gender based harassment and violence at work, maternity and paternity leave, access to daycare services for children and a shorter working week.

    Sonja has been a member of various committees on gender equality, for example the technical committee that created the Equal Pay Standard, and was later appointed to the governmental Action Group on Equal Pay that amongst other things monitored a pilot project of the implementation the Equal Pay Standard. Sonja was one of the main organizers of the Women’s Strike (Kvennafrí) in 2016 and 2018.

  • Sonya Lennon
    Sonya Lennon
    WorkEqual campaing founder

    Sonya Lennon has thirty years’ experience in business as a creative director, designer, broadcaster, entrepreneur and strategic consultant. A multi award winning Social Entrepreneur, Sonya founded global not for profit initiative Dress for Success in Ireland seven years ago and has successfully supported over 3,000 women into employment and economic independence.

    Through her advocacy work, she has campaigned at a European level for equality in the workplace for women by addressing the Gender Pay & Opportunity Gap.

    Her womenswear brand Lennon Courtney, now sells Internationally through a licensing agreement with Dunnes Stores and has seen exponential growth. Sonya is a founder and board member of LIFT Ireland, Leading Ireland’s Future Together who’s mission is to improve the levels of leadership in Ireland by reaching 10% of the population with its roundtable model.

    Sonya is solution focussed, iterative and innovative but always grounded by a value in human relationships and understanding how to unpick and maximise the potential of business and people.
    Her podcast with business partner Brendan Courtney, Lennon Courtney Left Alone tackles big issues like Money, Age, Purpose and Love. It is a window into a world of conversations they have when they’re left alone.