Bryan Dobson addresses the pay gap between himself and Sharon Ní Bheoláin
"We are definitely at a turning point; the genie is out of the bottle and it's not going back."
Former RTÉ Six One host Bryan Dobson has admitted his surprise at the large gap in salary between he and fellow news presenter Sharon Ní Bheoláin, adding that he couldn't see any reason why she should be paid less than him.
It was revealed in the summer of 2017 that Dobson was paid between €60,000 - €80,000 more than his then Six One co-host Ní Bheoláin, which led to RTÉ carrying out an investigation into gender disparity at the national broadcaster.
On Friday night's episode of The Late Late Show, Dobson noted that it's "rather unsettling" to go from reporting the news to becoming a news item in your own right, but accepted that the gender pay gap row was "a perfectly legitimate story."
"I was surprised by the figures as Sharon revealed them, and I found it difficult to see the justification for the difference, at least the scale of the difference," said Dobson.
"I absolutely believe in the principle that you pay equally for work of equal value, and I don't think anybody has any toleration of gender discrimination where people are doing the same job," he added. "Now maybe our jobs were slightly different in some ways, but not that different."
Dobson, who stepped down from RTÉ News last year following a 21-year career behind the Six One news desk, acknowledged the "complex issue" of gender disparity in the workplace and beyond.
"I think you find [that imbalance] across society and in lots of other workplaces as well, so even if you do meet the bar of equal pay for work of equal value, that actually doesn't deal with the problem," he argued.
Noting that the problem extends beyond a lack of equal pay, Dobson spoke of the "turning point" currently faced by society.
"I think what's interesting about it is [that] it's part of a whole debate about the relationship between men and women, the role of women in society, how they're treated... I think we are definitely at a turning point; the genie is out of the bottle and it's not going back," he said.
"I say this as a man - I think it's a thoroughly good, healthy development because I think men are actually in some ways disadvantaged by this very patriarchal society that we're expected to carry.
"I don't think it'll do men any harm, actually, if there's a bit of shift towards greater respect for women, greater equality for women, greater involvement for women in decision-making in every aspect of society."