BPW Australia members will yet again be dismayed as the announcement that the Gender Pay Gap has blown out to 18.2%, the worst in 20 years. Equal Pay Day, Friday 5th September, is 66 days extra a woman has to work to earn the same as a man in the year before (see more inside)
Whilst women wear red for Equal Pay Day, they are seeing red this week after data from the Australian.
Bureau of Statistics shows that men working full-time earn 18.2% more than women, that’s $283.20 per week, or $14726 per year. Women working in the female dominated health care and social assistance sectors have the largest gap at $30.7%, followed by financial and insurance services at 30.0%. (other sectors’ information is available from www.wgea.gov.au).
The gap has gone backwards another1 % in the last 12 months. Women are asking themselves, what do they have to do to get pay equity? Nothing. Really, it is time for those who pay them to become accountable.
It is time to turn up the heat on the hand that pays us.
Will it take over 70 years as depressingly suggested in a recent Oxfam reportto achieve pay equity? A major part of the reason for pay disparity is purely attributable to discrimination based on gender.
Does a female child care worker working with the next generation of lawyers, doctors, school teachers, perform work of a lesser value than a male construction worker? Is the work less demanding, require less education? No, but that is the way society has valued the work that women in large numbers
perform, and today we argue for equitable pay based on the value of work, not the sex of the people performing it(similar to the slogan from 40-50 years ago –“pay the job, not the sex”). Men work in industries that have been historically more highly valued –not because their work is of a more highly
skilled nature, just that it was assessed at some point in the past as being ‘worth’ more because it was done by men.
That doesn’t account for the other areas where women work alongside male colleagues and still earn less. Are women actively discouraged from asking their employers what others earn to compare their remuneration? BPWclubs run negotiating skills workshops, for instance, on Equal Pay Days, and have
the anecdotal evidence that asking for a pay rise does pay off; they provide professional advice, practical tips and support and encouragement to their members and other women in the workplace.
BPW Clubs across the country are commemorating Equal Pay Day throughout August and September in various ways, with education and information as a key to many of their events. Wearing red or carrying
red bags is a sign of solidarity on this day. It is not a day to ‘celebrate’, as such, because as long as the gap remains high (and increases) between what men and women earn, women will continue to suffer financial hardship, poverty even, especially in retirement. A gap in wages of $14000 or more per year adds up to a lot at the end of your working life. Effectively, women have given away a year’s worth of productive income to their employers every 5.5 years. Is THAT why we see no change?
The pay gap varies all over the world, and in Germany, where it is similar to Australia, BPW Germany have been given €1 million for the last three years to run a public awareness campaign, and the government has just renewed that pledge for another 3 years. For example, BPW Germany ran a public
accountability press and media campaign during the elections, asking politicians of all parties to explain what they would do to repair the gap. This very public exposure of the problem and seeking realistic solutions will hopefully see some progress being made there. The gap in Europe varies between 6 -24%, and in Japan and Korea around 30%, and in New Zealand it is around 13%.
Is there light at the end of a very long tunnel? Large employers are now being forced to examine their work practices by reporting data to the WGEA annually, using the GEIs (Gender Equity Indicators). It is hoped that this will provide real wage statistics allowing full and proper analysis of workplace culture, leading to full and just remuneration for all, regardless of gender.
Director of Policy