Female voluntary sector workers in Northern Ireland are paid only 84 per cent of what their male counterparts earn, according to new research.
The survey by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action showed that the average salary for women is £17,809, compared with £21,129 for men. The survey also found that 75 per cent of all paid voluntary sector workers in the region are female, while two out of every three chief executives are male.
"We clearly have some way to go," said Nicva researcher Andrea Burke.
"Over the years the number of women progressing up the ranks has been improving, but this needs to be turned into a better gender balance at the highest levels."
The survey also demonstrated that voluntary sector workers in Northern Ireland are paid between 5 and 38 per cent less than their private-sector counterparts and that chief executives earn half as much as their opposite numbers in the private sector.
But nearly half of voluntary organisations provide maternity pay above the legal minimum, two-thirds offer more than the law demands on sick pay and more than half have flexible working hours.
Despite this, 14 per cent of organisations felt that the benefits package they could offer employees had a negative impact on recruitment. The average pay increase in the past year was 3.14 per cent.
More than 88 per cent of organisations awarded their employees an annual salary increase of between 2 and 4 per cent.
The survey included 3,651 employees from 239 voluntary organisations in Northern Ireland.