New figures show that male primary school teachers earn on average €8,000 more than their female counterparts and are far more likely to become school principals.

The data was supplied to the primary teachers' union, the INTO, by the Department of Education.

15% of primary school teachers are male - a figure that is widely acknowledged as too low.

However, male teachers are far more likely to hold senior posts than their female counterparts and they will earn a lot more.

A man has a greater than one-in-four chance of being a principal, while a woman has a one-in-13 chance.

According to the data, the average male teacher earns €64,000 per annum, while the average female earns €56,000.

The INTO took an historic step yesterday electing its first female general secretary.

Sheila Nunan will replace John Carr when he retires next year.