There is nothing like an Equal Pay Day to make a man see red.

Westpac CEO Gail Kelly: No logical reason there's not more CEOs like her out there.

Writing on Tuesday about research that claims women earn 17.5 per cent less than men in Australia, I drew the wrath of blokes from around the country.

That figure came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics but was used by the newly formed Equal Pay Alliance of 135 organisations to make their point.

The alliance argues that despite it being 40 years since laws were passed to promote gender pay equity, women were still being short changed.

The ACTU also used Equal Pay Day to publicise research claiming that the average woman would earn $1 million less than the average man over the lifetime of her career.

And I quoted research by Macquarie University commissioned by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.

Carried out a couple of years back, researchers looked at the earnings of executives in our top 200 ASX companies. Even women in CFO and COO positions earned far less than men.

In responses, men argued that pay inequity was a fiction. For instance, over a working lifetime a woman will take big career breaks to have children and or work part time. The ACTU wasn’t comparing apples with apples.

As for the EOWA, the men argued, the research was biased and a play on numbers and the male executives in the sample were obviously working at the top of the big companies while the girls were not.

Men taking the top paying jobs applied in other sectors too.

“For example, take the health sector. Women tend to be the nurses and men tend to be the doctors,” wrote Rodney.

Theo offered: “Equal pay also means that women do equal work which is often not the case. In most of the places I’ve worked women often stand around in their little groups gossiping.” 

I especially enjoyed Mike J’s take: “Ladies, here’s a tip: if you spent less time whinging about the unfairness of it all, spending work time on women’s health initiatives, participating in mentoring programs, organising morning teas and social occasions and, yes, gossiping (Kate, I’m sure you know that it’s well established women talk more in the workplace than men), maybe you actually would be doing the same job and would have an argument for equal pay.”

For a bit of clarity I turned to John Shields today. Not only is he a bloke but he is also Associate Professor Work & Organisational Studies at the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Sydney.

Shields agreed with the blokes that the EOWA research into executive pay needs closer inspection to figure out the size of the companies the execs were working for.

“However, there is a gender equity issue as to why women are still not in those roles [at the top of large organisations].

“There is no logical reason why there are not more Catherine Livingstones and Gail Kellys out there. It is what happens to them along the way.

“Any aggrieved male with their tongue not planted firmly in their cheek that is willing to suggest there is no significant gender biased when it comes to selecting candidates for company board positions and senior executive positions is living on another planet.”

As for figuring out what is happening down on earth where the normal workers are Shields tells the blokes to visit the ABS website.

“Tell them to go and look at the quarterly earnings data by industry, occupation and by gender. It is absolutely transparent there is a gender gap that cannot be explained away by saying all the men are managers and all women are in customer service.”

Shields believes the real problem with pay inequity lies in payments on top of base pay but more research needs to be done to prove it.

He draws on his own work plus research from the National Institute for Labour to suggest women are not getting access to bonuses and performance payments.

“For example, financial services have the biggest cash [gender] earnings gap apart from mining and mining can be explained. I think the answer lies in performance assessment – I can’t prove that but it is an area that really needs additional research. 

“What needs to be tested is whether or not there is a gender bias in the way performance is defined and rewarded,” says Shields.

Personally, I think gender pay equity also has a lot to do with a woman’s ability to negotiate but that’s a whole other blog.

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    • Eric says:

      07:43am | 03/09/09

      More feminist agenda-pushing. The bias of journalists is pretty obvious in this area. How many articles on The Punch have shown the men’s viewpoint?

      What about the lifetime gap? Women live longer than men.

      What about the healthcare gap? Women get more specialised healthcare than men.

      What about the education gap? More women graduate than men.

      What about the incarceration gap? Fewer women are jailed than men.

      Yet it’s always the same old story, jourtnalists banging on about the poooor widdle wimmins. Where’s the balance?

    • Peter says:

      08:15am | 03/09/09

      Ok, where’s Eric?

    • Rob says:

      08:29am | 03/09/09

      Having a look at the ABS figures they also show that while the average woman earned less than the average man, they also worked less.  If you look at the average female wage and then the average females working hours, it would seem that the average female earns more per hour of work than the average male does….

    • Jason says:

      08:45am | 03/09/09

      Great piece Kate. I would suggest that gender inequality is universal but more so in Australia.  Perhaps it is something to do with the whole Austtralian ‘bloke’ culture? The ‘boys network’ is decreasing somewhat but it is still very much in play. It seems though that in Europe, women are far more likely to be in executive roles than here in Australia.

    • K8e says:

      08:53am | 03/09/09

      OH YOU’VE STARTED THE SH*T NOW THERE… “woman’s ability to negotiate” my @$$... we can negotiate well with other WOMEN, it’s just the men who are already planted firmly in the top with their preconceived ideas and inability to LISTEN to the arguments being presented which is the problem…!

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      09:07am | 03/09/09

      You’d get more Gail Kellys and Catherine Livingstones as CEOs if women would learn to stuff the workers more. The hallmark of a truly great CEO is the ability to award yourself a whopping great big pay rise while simultaneously sacking workers and stripping conditions.

    • Eric says:

      09:12am | 03/09/09

      @Peter: Censored, again. Truth hurts.

    • Liz says:

      09:35am | 03/09/09

      Another potential useful article degenerating into a brawl here on The Punch.What does it tell us? There’s a lot of ill will out there, bitterness, anger and inability to negotiate,listen and find solutions? No wonder we have a problem Houston.

    • JD says:

      09:46am | 03/09/09

      There is no gender inequality, there is personality inequality. I’m discriminated against and earn less because I’m quite passive, compassionate, and have a strong sense of fairness and justice. In short, I won’t sell my soul for a dollar.

      There are far fewer ruthless narcissistic women out there than men. However there are some, and they rise to the top in the greedy, dirty little money driven society we live in just the same as the ruthless heartless men do. And the men that don’t have such traits? Right alongside the women with a similar personality.

      There will always be perceived slights based on gender as long as there are significant differences in personality dominating the demographics.

    • SR says:

      09:55am | 03/09/09

      Yes there is – women don’t want to sacrifice their feminine weakness which they so often use to their advantage to get what they want. Gail Kelly has got balls. She chose to sacrifice her femininity to play hard ball with the blokes.

      Blokes respect a woman who can go toe to toe with them without plying the “but I a girl” card. Men get to the top by being ruthless.

      Do you still remember the incident where Hilary “cried” for here country – its no wonder she lost.

      No men and no women want a leader that shows signs of weakness. Learn that and you will have all the “success” that the 1% of men have.

    • SR says:

      09:59am | 03/09/09

      Revision to my previous post (it makes more sense if I include the quote of argument)

      “Westpac CEO Gail Kelly: No logical reason there’s not more CEOs like her out there.”

      Yes there is – women don’t want to sacrifice their feminine weakness which they so often use to their advantage to get what they want. Gail Kelly has got balls. She chose to sacrifice her femininity to play hard ball with the blokes.

      Blokes respect a woman who can go toe to toe with them without plying the “but I a girl” card. Men get to the top by being ruthless.

      Do you still remember the incident where Hilary “cried” for here country – its no wonder she lost.

      No men and no women want a leader that shows signs of weakness. Learn that and you will have all the “success” that the 1% of men have.

    • Emma M says:

      10:33am | 03/09/09

      Interesting piece.
      I agree a lot of comes down to the negotiating table, though the bloke culture certainly plays its part.
      To generalise, men have a greater sense of entitlement - to pay and to the bigger jobs. Which may partly explain why they don’t understand what the big deal here is. I guess to them it’s simple: if you want a more prestigious job or more money, push for it. In my experience men and women with sufficient ego simply need to ask, and they receive. Regardless of competency.

    • Macca says:

      10:34am | 03/09/09

      Firstly, LOL @ Peter!

      Secondly, Eric :(

      Now to the real stuff.

      Kate, this is an honest question. My understanding, despite my Gen-Y ambitions, is that it probably takes a good 25 - 30 years minimum to get to senior executive, CEO, CFO level at a major company. Whilst There are more women graduating now, I suspect (this was before I was born so I have little information first hand) that the number of women graduating with ‘professional’ degrees (accounting, engineering, etc.)  was probably less than the number of men, and significantly less than the figures we see today. Exclude low paid careers, such as nursing and teaching, which for a variety of reasons, have a higher female representation, and I think the figure of female graduates 30 years ago is probably fairly low (relatively).

      Furthermore, The shovanistic attitude in workplaces 20 years ago would still have stalled the career paths of many workplaces, and the effects of those stalls could still be having effects today.

      My question, isn’t the lack of women at high levels of leadership in organisaitons a representaion of Australia’s historical attitudes to women at work, and not the attitudes held of the last decade or so?

      I think this is compounded by the fact that this debate just assumes we can fix this ‘problem’ instantly, that organisations are very flexible instant reactors.

      As for the argument that maternity leave or time out of the workforce shouldn’t effect pay, rubbish! Many organisations would have a annual salaray review, where anyone performing their job to a satisfactory level can expect a 2-5% pay rise. If you spend 5 years out of the workforce raising children, you have lost 5 years experience, and are not eligible for that 15% pay rise that your peers have received while you were away. That is how business works. Unfortunately, you do not get better at your job when you are not doing it, and taking time off can be detrimental to your pay and career
      I guarantee you, there will be very few Companies who will order their HR departments to do a study of their wage rates, male vs female, and establish a plan to ensure that men and women are paid equally. its just not going to happen.

    • Eric says:

      10:37am | 03/09/09

      Here’s an aspect of the money situation that never seems to get any coverage.

      Which gender controls how more money is spent? Is it men, who spend more time at work, or their spouses, who make day-to-day decisions about shopping?

      What about women who live on average seven years longer than their husbands, and consequently inherit their savings? And then there are the woman receiving a large percentage of their ex-partner’s income in the form of child support?

      Men may earn more money, at the expense of working longer hours. But I suspect that women actually have more control over how money is spent.

    • Tim says:

      10:41am | 03/09/09

      Once again i wont even bother with the averages. They don’t mean anything and can be explained by many reasons (time at work, different positions, seniority, experience). None of these are discriminatory, and i would argue at the level of employment that 95% of the workforce is at the gender pay gap simple does not exist, at least in a discrimination sense.
      The gap in manager’s pay is another story.
      Part of the reason giving in the research for the manager’s pay difference is Work Culture or the Boys Club.
      Now you may not like it but the men who are currently at the top of their tree are going to hire and promote people that are similar to themselves (beliefs, interests etc). This is more nepotism than sexual discrimination and happens in every workplace. I don’t know any boss who is going to hire or promote someone they cannot relate to. Maybe you should be arguing about human nature and changing work culture rather than arguing about discrimination

    • Tim says:

      10:55am | 03/09/09

      Oh and from the EOWA research (my comments in brackets):
      Some of the key causes of the gender pay gap include:
      The segregated types of jobs women do (choice of employment)
      The low value placed on the work women do (supply and demand)
      The unequal distribution of overtime, allowances and promotional pay (negotiations)
      The impact of caring responsibilities on women’s patterns of work (family commitments)
      The lack of investment in women through training and development (I have never seen this)
      Stereotypical views about women’s abilities and roles (maybe some places?)
      A failure to understand the difference between hours worked and outcomes (so women work less hours)

      Only one of these reasons, the stereotypical views, could even slightly be seen as discriminatory. The rest are simply reflect either a choice made by women, or a result of the capitalist country we live in.

    • SW says:

      10:57am | 03/09/09

      a little off course but related in some way - why do we award female tennis players equal pay for less work than their male counterpart.  and if it is a question of physical capacity… i note women run the same distance for a marathon, play soccer over the same 90 minutes, compete alongside men in equestrian events etc etc - why not compete in a best-of-5 sets tennis match

    • Peter says:

      11:11am | 03/09/09

      I keep hearing that women earn less all the time. What fantasy land does this come from. I work in industry (Blue collar) and every woman Ive met gets the same as their male counter parts and promotion is there if they choose to take it. Quite often they refuse promotion when offered. The argument from my view point isn’t that they don’t get the oportunities, but don’t want them in some cases.
      Your argument seems to be more around CEO type positions. If they truely are payed less then they obviously have poorer negotiating skill when it comes to salaries after all these positions don’t have set pay rates they are based on supply and demand. In other words if you’ve got the skill you’ll get the money

    • Greg says:

      12:02pm | 03/09/09

      CEOs are a minority. Why are we talking about them?

    • Davo from St Kilda says:

      12:36pm | 03/09/09

      Here we go again with the furphy that women earn less than men. For those who haven’t been paying attention… If an employer has to choose between an equally qualified female and a male for a job, and it will cost the employer 17.5% more to hire the male, who do you think will get the job? The woman, of course. But the workforce does not consist entirely of female employees, does it? That’s because women do NOT earn 17.5% less than men who perform the same job. To those who claim that women do earn less than men, give us just one example. Prove that there is a woman anywhere who earns 17.5% less than the male working along side her, doing the same job. Is there a woman out there who can honestly say that her hourly/weekly pay is 17.5% less than a man who performs the exact same job? I’ve never had a job which has separate pay rates for men and women. Every woman I’ve worked with who does the same job as myself has always been paid the same. No exception.

    • Al says:

      02:11pm | 03/09/09

      Professor Shields:

      “Any aggrieved male with their tongue not planted firmly in their cheek that is willing to suggest there is no significant gender biased when it comes to selecting candidates for company board positions and senior executive positions is living on another planet.”

      I wonder how he saw that from his Ivory Tower, has a lot of experience in board rooms does he?

      The fact of the matter is that the ABS data shows men work longer hours, we know that higher earning professions are filled predominantly by men, men don’t take breaks to have children and men are far more ruthless.

      Given these factors women should be rejoicing that the pay gap is so small.

      For the record I am an LLB and my partner is a BComm - she earns more than me, works harder than me and is more career focussed. For those things I think she deserves earn more than me and I don’t begrudge her - pity more women don’t have the same attitude.

    • Paul Horn says:

      02:17pm | 03/09/09

      Oh Katy Katy Katy you are taking the piss are you not? Is there also gender bias when it comes to selection of trades folk? I would say that the percentage of “tradesmen” (sorry for being so oppressive!) vs “tradeswomyn"would be far higher than the gender ratios presently gracing our boards!  So is there also gender bias when it comes to selection of personnel working in the mines, the petrochemical industry, the power generation, aviation, transportation, aerospace etc etc etc industries?? 

      All overwhelmingly male filled with you know boring hairy ended technical deadheads that a fair lady of your delicate disposition in such a sexy progressive profession would never be caught dead conversing with in a seedy bar!  Just look at “The New Inventors”  on chanel two - just about 100 percent male. Is that also about oppressive gender bias? Are there hordes of brilliant female inventors out there being kept at bay by ravenous dogs while busloads of male inventors are furtively let in by the back door of old Aunty so that the patriarchicial power structure can be maintained. Oh imagine all those hot flushes Aunty would be having at such a monstrous accusation! 

      So why oh why oh why are you lot not complaining about the gender disparity at the hard end where all the real work is done that keeps you women enlightened, warmed, fed, cooled, transported, dressed, entertained the list is endless! I can never get over the hollering and screaming about why women don’t occupy the top positions but happily glean over all those horrible dirty, sweaty nasty smelly jobs overwhemingly performed by the oppressive sex , the benefits of which are overwhelmingly enjoyed by the “fairer?” sex. 

      Anyway enough - I have enjoyed your contributions! Thank You so much for letting a bitter twisted feminist hating male such as myself have his two cents worth, if even it is worth that!  Feminism never did make any logical sense but anyway its fun having a go back!.

    • Patrice says:

      03:29pm | 03/09/09

      I think it’s so sad that in the twenty-first century women are still forced to debate the issue of equal pay.

      Perhaps if we had more transparency with what our co-workers were earning (such as what happens when you work for government) it wouldn’t be so hard for women to negotiate equal pay.

      In my experience, women tend to devalue themselves more when negotiating pay – men seem to be able to better sell/fight for their pay rise.

      More saddening is that each year, the pay gap seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.

      Shame Australia, we can do better than this.

    • Tim says:

      03:57pm | 03/09/09

      you obviously have no idea what a free market is. If you want transparency of pay, why don’t you ask your coworkers what they are getting paid? It is not an employer’s job to tell you what you are worth. 
      And should men stop being good at selling themselves or should women become better at it?
      Yes Shame Australia. Shame that people like Patrice think they deserve something just for being a woman.

    • Al says:

      04:25pm | 03/09/09

      Patrice - why should it be someone else’s business what I am getting paid to do my job. I work with a range of people who have various undergraduate and post graduate qualifications and work experiences. Should we all get paid the same because we have the same ‘job description’... of course not, because employees in any role are not a homogenous product, rather we have different skills and experience and different work ethics, things which the market values accordingly on a case by case basis.

      The level system in government with set pay based on length of service at a particular grade demeans performance and rewards mediocrity.

    • B says:

      04:29pm | 03/09/09

      My mum works at a law firm and even she said she can see why employers are reluctant to hire women in the late 20’s and 30’s. She said the number of replacements the have had to hire when they take maternity leave to have kids made it an almost impossible task.
      A way to possibly look at it is that the additional money that men get paid makes up for the fact they can’t be at home to watch their own kids grow up. What’s that worth? I think it’s almost priceless.

    • ts says:

      05:34pm | 03/09/09

      SW - you for real??

      generalising of course - but that’s all this article seems to do - but the top womens tennis players wouldn’t stack up to the top men.  they want equal pay they obviously need equal performance. 

      that in general is what is never considered in these pieces - you need to be comparing like with like. stop generalising and speaking in averages and prove that there are women out there who could be doing a better job than their male counterparts, yet for whatever reason aren’t given the chance.  or are donig identical jobs for les pay.  then you might start convincing people. a job can’t be given to someone who isn’t applying.

    • Formersnag says:

      06:46pm | 03/09/09

      Spot on Eric, and other gentlemen, as usual.

      Being an evil patriarchy denier, myself, i put my larger brain to the problem and found some solutions. Let me know boys and girls if you would, vote for these policy options.

      Any female who wants a professional career, must be sterilised before starting their expensive degree education in medicine, law, etc. Then children, would not disrupt their career. Or agree to take the minimum, medically necessary few weeks off, at child birth, go straight back to full time work and support a full time stay at home house husband.

      Another one could be “workplace conscription”, where women are forced against their will if necessary to work 60 to 100 hours a week like men do, in dirty, dangerous jobs, like underground mining, (think how much better the TV ratings would have been if those 2 miners trapped underground had been females, oh the humanity) front line troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

      Why can’t you radical, extremist, feminists, allow women, to be women, if they want to? It is you, not, we men, who undervalue motherhood.

    • cat says:

      09:12pm | 03/09/09

      As a woman, I don’t want to work in ‘men’s’ industries (although I work in the freight industry) and I thoroughly appreciate all those men who help me putting heavy/awkward things into my truck. I also appreciate the fact that, generally speaking (leaving out the dolebludgers, etc!), men are will work longer and in dirty, dangerous jobs where women shouldn’t be (as they are a distraction - them’s fighting words!!).
      However, I don’t think that one can always say men work harder than women - I work harder that most of my male co-workers & deal with plenty of lazy blokes in various businesses. I get paid equally and I’m good with that.
      Personally, I’d prefer to be at home when the kids get home from school, have a tidy house, tea cooked early and be able to do volunteer-work. Women can work anywhere they want (within reason), but with a family it’s a real balancing act. There are jobs you can do from home via internet, etc.
      I think that most women (brain-washed) in their effort to become ‘equal’ (whatever that is) have devalued themselves and no longer have the respect they so desperately want (which they used to have more of) from men in general.
      I am a woman - I don’t want to be treated like a man.

    • Damien says:

      09:45am | 04/09/09

      Interesting article, maybe I am one of the aggrieved males with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, but from my experience women are remunerated acoording to their performance and not gender. In fact, in my industry it appears females occupy the most senior and high paying positions! Many of my senior managers are female; National Sales Director; Director of Advertising; State Manager and so on. As far as I am aware they are being remunerated on the same level if not more than their male counterparts based on performnace, experience, leadership etc - the qualities which slaray should be based on, the ones that matter, gender should not come into the equation.

    • Mandy Black says:

      08:05am | 07/09/09

      You are such a fantastic writer Kate, great story.
      Could it be that some of us have not moved on from the past? I mean our parents, their parents and so on, was all in the mine set that the man went to work and the women stayed home.Therefore a presedence was set and the industry today has not changed with the times. It should be in my view is may the best person for the job not only win the position, but be paid accordingly, male or female. I believe women can multi task, they can negotiate and they make fantastic leaders so why should the “rules” be different for them?

    • Mark says:

      10:37am | 07/09/09

      There is no logical reason why there are not more Catherine Livingstones and Gail Kellys out there
      Well lets start with Applications for Job,
      Has there been any look at all at the number of creidble applications for Top level jobs? If 40 men and 5 women applied for 2 jobs,  The best people should get the job.

      Sorry.. not generalising, but specifically you dont understand the meaning of sense of entitlement, Men live and a sosciety that values them based in a large part on how much they earn, They know they have to fight for everything, no one is going to hand it to them, so they adapt to the system and they fight
      That is not entitlement, A better (but not great) example of entitlement is arguing traditiononal female jobs are paid less becasue of discrimination, and expecting/wanting those jobs to be paid more

    • oem software says:

      10:49am | 19/08/12

      fr43bU I appreciate you sharing this article post.


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