It’s up to women to get tough on pay equity
Gender pay equity never fails to raise temperatures.
Like climate change, there are many out there who deny women get paid less than men for doing the same job.
Last night the House Employment and Workplace Relations Committee chaired by Labor MP Sharryn Jackson tabled its Making it Fair report in Federal Parliament.
The report claims women are paid up to 17 per cent less than men and that female dominated employment sectors such as child care and aged care are synonymous with “low paid work”.
Speaking to me this morning, Jackson said some of the worst pay gaps occur in white collar sectors including the legal profession and architecture.
The Australian Institute of Management’s research backs this up. Released in September it revealed male executives were paid 10.2 per cent more than female executives – a slight improvement on its 2008 results.
The AIM is hardly a feminist organisation so hold your conspiracy theories please. Data from 759 organisations was examined to find a big enough sub sample where men and women were doing the same jobs to compare “like against like”.
While some reasons for gender pay gaps are outside a woman’s control others are not such as our own self limiting behaviour.
I’ve been writing a career column for years and have received hundreds of emails from women complaining about pay. When I suggest they put a well researched pay rise pitch to the boss, they’re horrified.
“Why should I have to ask my boss for a pay rise? He knows what I do,” is an all too common response. The answer is, ‘because you want a pay rise’.
Karen Adamedes worked her way to general manager level at Telstra before leaving to write a book - Hot tips for Career Chicks – Unlocking the CODE for success. She is now GM of Sales at online directory True Local.
She was also part of a live forum CareerOne ran for women last week along with four other panel members including The Punch contributor Tracey Spicer.
Adamedes says women send a “scud missile” through their pay negotiations by saying things like, “well of course it is not about the money” when describing what they value about their job.
She says men judge each other by how much they earn – not job titles. They are also much better at asking one another subtle questions about pay to suss out which job comes with a car space or shares.
Women also have a tendency to wait until they are picked for promotion or only push for a step up when they are 110 per cent qualified for the job.
We worry about being liked and fear being labelled pushy or aggressive.
“I’ve often been called aggressive. They can call it aggression, but I call it assertion,” former head of Apple Di Ryall told the forum.
She now runs her own company, Xplore for Success to train executives of both genders.
Federal MP Bronwyn Bishop told the audience “to find ways to strengthen your resolve” when going after goals, forget about being liked and aim for respect instead.
“When you put your hand up for leadership, someone will have a go at you; someone will want to give your head a kick. If you can handle that, go right ahead and do it, if you can’t, don’t put it up at that time.”
Bishop said she was accused of being ambitious when she first ran for the Senate and President of the NSW Liberal Party in 1987.
“I said ‘you bet I’m ambitious, I’m ambitious for my country, I’m ambitious for my people to succeed … there is no one more ambitious than me.’ That shut them up, they couldn’t use it again.”
“I am still the only woman to cross from the Senate to the House to the Ministry.”
“I agree with Bronwyn, get over this being liked, get over thinking things are personal,” Di Ryall said. “Men are inclined to have really good battles about a topic and afterwards they go out and have a beer together, women go home, maybe with the tissues but then they churn over it for the next 6 months. It’s like get over it. Get equal or get out, but don’t just sit there doing nothing.”
Spicer added: “I’m always conscious of that when talking to my daughter. I’m always praising her about being the good girl and then thinking, ‘why I’m doing this? She’s not going to have the balls to be able to get to the top in business while I’m praising her for being a goodie two-shoes.”
There are other things we need to master such as risk taking, supporting women who want families and careers and, Spicer would add, learning to compete without tearing each other to bits.
“Support other women. Too often we try to drag each other down and see only women as our competitors.”
Kate Southam is the editor of Careerone.com.au.
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