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Gender Agenda

By 29 July 2014 17

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Do women really lose out in the workplace on account of their gender?

It has been said that if a woman was always available to do the same work as a man for less money, why would a capitalist ever employ a man?

Glib aphorism maybe, but does it make a point?

The same claims continue to be made over and over by some commentators that the “boy’s club” still exists, that women are denied opportunity and paid less for the same work simply because they’re women.

Is this true, or is it pandering?

Is it a case of some individuals in the media telling their readers what they want to hear instead of honestly addressing the issues?

Let’s compare:

Anne Summers for The Sydney Morning Herald in what appears to be a well researched piece headed Gender Pay Gap Still a Disgrace wrote: “…statistics, released in August 2012 by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA, formerly known as EOWA, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency), make for grim reading. There is barely an occupation, a job, a sector or an age group where women do not earn less, often hugely less, than men”.

Cassidy Knowlton for Crikey in what appears to be a well researched piece headed Get Fact: do men make much more than women for the same job? wrote (quoting the WGEA again) “The (pay) gap is currently 17.1% and has hovered between 15% and 18% for the past two decades. We also know there are pay gaps in favour of men in every industry and in all roles, including in female-dominated industries.”

But Ms. Knowlton then goes to other sources. E.g.: GCA report author Bruce Guthrie told Crikey  the WGEA had made some “mistaken assumptions” about the figures: “The gap between sexes is far smaller than they posited. The key issue they missed in terms of their assumptions were that the figures we presented did not take into account the different types of work people were doing … People in different areas can have different earnings, and sometimes you find also there can be differences in terms of choices made by males and females.”

And: Crikey took a closer look at GCA’s 2012 data and found that the average starting salary for male graduates is not actually much higher than that of female graduates in most fields. In fact, in the fields of computer science, earth sciences, engineering, pharmacy, physical sciences and social sciences, the average female starting salary was higher. And in agricultural science, biological science, education, humanities, medicine, psychology and veterinary science, there wasn’t much difference.

Anne Summers concludes: As the figures make clear, the gender pay gap is a national scandal. It amounts to a gender tax, with women making a disproportionate contribution to the national economy. (And that’s on top of having the kids and doing most of the housework!)

Cassidy Knowlton concludes: So while a gender pay gap does exist in Australia, it does not seem to be the case that women are paid much less simply because of their gender. Choosing lower-paid careers, a temporary break in earnings to raise children and a need for flexible or part-time working hours all hurt women’s earning potential.

Both writers make mention of the difference family can make for a woman.

Anne Summers seems to think raising children is a chore akin to housework.

Cassidy Knowlton categorises them as hurting a woman’s earning potential.

But not all women see their children as a burden or an impediment – they’re our kids for God’s sake and surely most of us want to do what’s best for them?

Anecdotally I’m told of mother’s refusing promotion or the offer to work more hours even though it means more money because they have other priorities – usually family.

Some careers are more difficult to combine with children than others.

For example it has always been my understanding that female scientists who are also parents find it particularly difficult to re-establish medical research work.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher makes this exact point in the RiotACT report on her announcement of what seems like a good initiative: the establishment of the Judith Whitworth Fellowship for Gender Equity in Science at the ANU.

It makes sense to me to deal with parenting issues – which from my observations are so often the real reason why some women earn less than some men – on a case by case basis, rather than just quote overall figures which don’t tell the full story and then rush to judgment and claim women miss out because Australia is run by the “boy’s club”.

Still, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but as it’s an issue that affects so many of us I’m interested in pursuing it.

If you have a thought on the matter or experience which relates, let me know.

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17 Responses to Gender Agenda
#1
VYBerlinaV8_is_back10:32 am, 29 Jul 14

Do women earn less as individuals, or on average? Are there really jobs where women do literally the same job as the bloke in the next desk and get paid less, or are the figures skewed because some women choose to take maternity leave and sometimes further time off with children and as such don’t progress as far up the career ladder?

#2
chewy1412:04 pm, 29 Jul 14

Does sexism and gender discrimination exist when it comes to pay?

Yes.

Is it anywhere near the levels that feminists like Summers or Elizabeth Broderick talk about?

No.

The misuse of broad industry wide statistics as proof of discrimination on this issue is rife. And they never seem to acknowledge that individual choice is by far the biggest factor in the difference.

#3
justin heywood6:57 pm, 29 Jul 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Do women earn less as individuals, or on average? Are there really jobs where women do literally the same job as the bloke in the next desk and get paid less, or are the figures skewed because some women choose to take maternity leave and sometimes further time off with children and as such don’t progress as far up the career ladder?

This ^ is the nub of the issue. I doubt that many Australian women are paid less for the SAME work/job*, but that is certainly implied when Summers says …”There is barely an occupation, a job, a sector or an age group where women do not earn less, often hugely less, than men” She doesn’t give any actual workplace examples of disparity, only graduate starting salaries, which contains other variables besides gender.

I guess if they have to stretch the truth to make their argument, gender inequality in the workplace can’t be too bad.

It is still a man’s world though. Men need to be encouraged (or shamed) into participating more in household chores and in child-rearing. Mundane though it is, in my experience that’s where the gender balance is truly unfair.

*happy to be corrected

#4
26048:43 pm, 29 Jul 14

The fact that women are paid less than men of similar experience in the same profession isn’t news. It’s certainly a useful fact for those trying to convince everyone that we have a Sexism Emergency and a Discrimination Emergency and an Inequality Emergency, with regulatory laws and affirmative action policies the only solutions.

However, people need to look beyond the facile headlines, and think critically about why women earn less. In my profession – law – generally, the amount of money you make increases with the number of hours you work. The really high earners work 12-16 hours every day and are nearly always men. Government law work, which is less time-intensive but also lower-paying, is dominated by women. Is there any law preventing women from working more, and men from working less? No. Those are just the choices people have made.

Similarly, economist Thomas Sowell writes that he was shocked to learn of the income disparities between male and female GPs of similar experience in the USA. That is, until he dug further and learned that male GPs worked, on average, 500 more hours per year than their female counterparts.

Think about the nature of people’s work, as well. Nine out of ten people killed on the job are men. Maybe the fact that the majority of dangerous work – mining and construction work in particular – is undertaken by men also contributes to them earning more, on average?

#5
JessicaGlitter9:42 pm, 29 Jul 14

Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.

Fear of promoting a beautiful young woman because people will think it’s only because of her sex appeal.

How can a woman expect to be taken seriously at work in a culture that doesn’t take her seriously as a human?

#6
gooterz10:29 pm, 29 Jul 14

Most women who don’t get the job over a lesser qualified person will claim discrimination. The guys in the same position will claim incompetent management.

There was a ted talk recently that highlighted a fact that seems very fitting to the discussion.
Females on average find it easier to get jobs for unskilled labour, cleaning and retail anything that doesn’t require specialist skills. Men on the other hand are always discriminated against on this base level so are forced to specialise and in turn get jobs with more money due to being specialists.

Another factor is that all female workplaces tend to be unproductive, where all male dominated workplaces tend to have less issues. Women tend to be more personal and feeling oriented in the workplace on average and behave differently in the absence of male peers.
One only has to google all female workplace to see the examples.

On the issue of paid more for the same work Melissa Fuller is now paying her female employees more to try and beat the discrimination of the pay gap and its legal.. somehow.

How many men lose contact with their children based on ‘the tender years’ doctrine and end up losing themselves in their work to fill the void? Women get it all in terms of family court its no wonder they earn less they have something to distract themselves from the work, something that men are lacking but getting no attention for.

Also men might get paid more on average but they live less, so who is actually benefitting from this?

There has been heaps of articles lately stating that women’s life expectancy isn’t increasing as fast as mens was. Aka men were closing the gap slightly and this was worrying.

What is the pay gap when child support is taken into account?

#7
gooterz10:34 pm, 29 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Fat shaming. Slut shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.

Men are held to higher expectations when it dress and often seen as potential rapists due to gender.
Airlines don’t let men sit next to children but will happily put any women in their place.
Friendzoning happens to both genders and isn’t what the feminists are calling it. What about the saying that if a guy is well dressed he must be gay, its incredibly sexist.
Then we have TV, where all the comedy is when a man is beat up or acts like an idiot (homer simpson) and anything happening to a woman is a serious tragedy.

#8
260410:36 pm, 29 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.

Fear of promoting a beautiful young woman because people will think it’s only because of her sex appeal.

Are you saying that only men engage in these practices against women? Or are women themselves to blame, too?

My experience (and that of my wife, mother and sister) is that very often women are criticised generally, and held back in their careers specifically, by women, not men.

JessicaGlitter said :

How can a woman expect to be taken seriously at work in a culture that doesn’t take her seriously as a human?

I think you could carve out a great career writing about these sorts of Sexism and Discrimination Emergencies for Fairfax’s Daily Life feature.

#9
dungfungus9:10 am, 30 Jul 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Do women earn less as individuals, or on average? Are there really jobs where women do literally the same job as the bloke in the next desk and get paid less, or are the figures skewed because some women choose to take maternity leave and sometimes further time off with children and as such don’t progress as far up the career ladder?

The woman running the tram project certainly isn’t earning any less that a male.

#10
VYBerlinaV8_is_back10:10 am, 30 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.

Fear of promoting a beautiful young woman because people will think it’s only because of her sex appeal.

How can a woman expect to be taken seriously at work in a culture that doesn’t take her seriously as a human?

Doesn’t sound like where I work at all. Anyone who gets on well with clients, bills lots of hours, increases the size and/or profitability of our accounts and is generally good at what they do is paid very well and promoted, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or any other factor. We employ a mix of people, but focus almost solely on measurable performance.

That other cr#p (Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.) just gets in the way of business.

#11
neanderthalsis11:09 am, 30 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming. The Bechdel test. Friend zoning.

Fear of promoting a beautiful young woman because people will think it’s only because of her sex appeal.

How can a woman expect to be taken seriously at work in a culture that doesn’t take her seriously as a human?

My experience as a man who has worked in predominately female workplaces in the education sector is that much of the discrimination you note (Fat shaming. Sl#t shaming, etc) is dealt by the other women in the workplace. Most of the men were always very careful not to upset the matriarchy (I guess that is the feminine equivalent of the patriarchy) but the women themselves were more than ready to tear each other apart.

#12
Maya12311:24 am, 30 Jul 14

“Fat shaming.”
I have never come upon this, but then I have never worked with anyone in the workplace who was larger than ‘plump’. But I can understand this on some level. In the job I did we were on our feet a lot and a large person (male or female) would have got in the road of others in tight spaces and would have moved slower and therefore have been less efficient. Maybe not when they were younger, but age would catch up on them quicker. It would be harder for others trying to get out of their way and needing to find other routes between equipment, so I could imagine this generating negative thoughts about an obese person blocking your way and slowing your work. However, as I said we never had this situation. We had a mixture of both male and female in our work place.

#13
dungfungus4:18 pm, 30 Jul 14

Maya123 said :

“Fat shaming.”
I have never come upon this, but then I have never worked with anyone in the workplace who was larger than ‘plump’. But I can understand this on some level. In the job I did we were on our feet a lot and a large person (male or female) would have got in the road of others in tight spaces and would have moved slower and therefore have been less efficient. Maybe not when they were younger, but age would catch up on them quicker. It would be harder for others trying to get out of their way and needing to find other routes between equipment, so I could imagine this generating negative thoughts about an obese person blocking your way and slowing your work. However, as I said we never had this situation. We had a mixture of both male and female in our work place.

“We had a mixture of both male and female in our work place”.
Do you mean transexual people?

#14
magiccar96:14 am, 31 Jul 14

What ever happened to filling the job with the best candidate? If a woman can do the particular job better than a man, give it to her. If she can’t, then we shouldn’t be ashamed to give it to the guy.

We need to step away from this mentality of someone’s sex taking precedence over the required skills. The fact that companies now have policies to hire/promote ‘x’ amount of women just to show diversity is disgusting. We’re basically breeding incompetence and entitlement into the workforce these days just based on sex.

#15
JessicaGlitter10:49 am, 31 Jul 14

It’s really great that so many RiotACT commenters are such nice people.

It’s worth bearing in mind that not everyone is though, and plenty of downright horrible people seek power at work for no better reason than because they like manipulating people. Other people are promoted beyond their level of confidence or achieve business success beyond their people skills and become quite childish in the way they deal with people.

#16
Maya12311:00 am, 31 Jul 14

magiccar9 said :

What ever happened to filling the job with the best candidate? If a woman can do the particular job better than a man, give it to her. If she can’t, then we shouldn’t be ashamed to give it to the guy.

We need to step away from this mentality of someone’s sex taking precedence over the required skills. The fact that companies now have policies to hire/promote ‘x’ amount of women just to show diversity is disgusting. We’re basically breeding incompetence and entitlement into the workforce these days just based on sex.

I agree. Being old enough I have lost jobs because the person who got the job got it “just based on sex”. (This has been the case for much of my working life.) They got the job because they were male. I was female, therefore I was going to get pregnant and leave, and on one occasion was told just this. Even when I finally got a job I was told by the boss he liked to have both male and female on the staff, as long as the males out-numbered the females. I was also told I was very lucky he was so ‘liberal’ and allowed me to do what he considered was ‘normally’ a man’s job, but at any time he could stop me doing it (and give it back to a male) because he was in charge. So let’s not base a job on the sex of the person. Too many men have got a job, not based on competence, but because they and the boss were male.

#17
Maya12311:16 am, 31 Jul 14

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

“Fat shaming.”
I have never come upon this, but then I have never worked with anyone in the workplace who was larger than ‘plump’. But I can understand this on some level. In the job I did we were on our feet a lot and a large person (male or female) would have got in the road of others in tight spaces and would have moved slower and therefore have been less efficient. Maybe not when they were younger, but age would catch up on them quicker. It would be harder for others trying to get out of their way and needing to find other routes between equipment, so I could imagine this generating negative thoughts about an obese person blocking your way and slowing your work. However, as I said we never had this situation. We had a mixture of both male and female in our work place.

“We had a mixture of both male and female in our work place”.
Do you mean transexual people?

None of my business!

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