Men can’t keep it level when it comes to equal pay
There is nothing like an Equal Pay Day to make a man see red.
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].
“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.
Don’t miss: Get The Punch in your inbox every day
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…