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Aus Community Government

Equal pay for women?

Today I saw a petition for getting equal pay for women in Australia. This is certainly an important goal however the goal of the petition is for the Government to “take action” to make it so:

I call on the Australian Government to take action to achieve equal pay for women.

Bold political leadership is required to change the legislative framework and shift cultural attitudes to close the 16% pay gap that currently exists between men and women.

I think there is certainly a place for Government leadership in this area, however I think a more important goal would be to provide information and resources for all Australians to know what they are worth and ensure they get the pay they deserve. I think there may be many reasons why women overall earn less than men, and some that are probably not malicious. For instance, many women don’t know what their jobs could earn and so don’t push for more money. Also now that collective bargaining is harder it is more difficult to know what your workmates are earning and to ensure you get the same.

There certainly are circumstances where women are prejudiced against in the workforce in terms of pay, and I believe the best way to combat this is to “arm the masses”. If you know what you are worth, then you won’t do with less. In a market where we have major skills shortages across the board (particularly in IT) people can ask for what they are worth and get it 🙂

2 replies on “Equal pay for women?”

While I agree that women should vie for what they’re economically worth in the workplace and research what that is, I think there could be a place for government intervention, since men can also vie for more than they’re worth… and get it!

Sexism runs both ways—it can keep women down, but it can also lift men up.

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs%40.nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/96e08af8f4178a45ca257306000d4fd4!OpenDocument

The median income is more relevant. The above ABS page shows that the median income for males is more than double that of females.

The problem with measuring average income is that it is skewed by the results of the high earners. If one group is buying Mercedes C class and BMW 3 series and another is buying Mercedes S class and BMW 7 series then the vast majority of the population is not going to care.

A proper analysis of this issue would compare the median income with the prices for renting, eating, and maintaining a car (repair, petrol, and insurance).

Earning $700 per week (the middle of the median band for male employees) is significantly better than earning $325 (the middle of the median band for female employees). Subtract housing expenses and a minimal amount of food expenses from $325 per week and there probably isn’t enough money left to maintain a roadworthy car.

http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/GPG_Report_Final_21_Feb.pdf

The original report which started this round of discussions (URL above) is aimed at supporting the union movement. While it’s fine for the union movement to want to demonstrate their efforts at getting fair pay for their members. Anyone who is interested in getting equal living standards for men and women needs to concentrate on the issue of women working in jobs that are paid less.

GetUp chose to take a different approach to the ITUC (pity that they didn’t cite a source of data that matches their aims or do their own analysis of ABS data). They claim that a cultural change is needed because hairdressers get paid less than mechanics. The fact is that I’m not going to die from a bad haircut but I might die as a direct result of a bad job by a mechanic (I’ve had one near-miss already). Therefore I’m less prepared to shop around for a low price when getting my car fixed.

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