Newly released figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have shown that men earn on average $1,587.40 a week compared to women who earn $1,289.30. That’s $298.10 less.
This means that women must work an extra 66 days a year to earn the same amount as a man.
Well, if you’re anything like me, you too would have also stumbled through that sentence. Dodging confusion and the overwhelming impulse to shake your head and slam your laptop shut. Well gear up because the path from here on out is only going to get rougher.
The new figures have revealed the national gender pay gap of 18.8 per cent (the highest it’s ever been) has risen 1.4 per cent since the data was first collected in 1994.
Keep in mind, this does not necessarily mean that women are being underpaid in the same roles. The pay gap does however reflect, in part, that women were often employed in lower-paid industries.
I know what you’re thinking – “How does a progressive country such as Australia fall so far behind in terms of gender equality? Why is this happening? How is this happening? I need a seat”
There certainly are many myths which attempt to provide an answer for us – the ones left scratching their heads, sipping coffee and squinting suspiciously at other colleagues across the office.
Is it because women are less qualified? While it has been assumed for many years that women’s smaller pay checks are a direct result of their lower level of education, recent studies have shown that 26 per cent of females hold a Bachelor Degree or higher education qualification in comparison to 22 per cent of men.
Sisters are most definitely doing it for themselves.
Is it because women don’t ask for pay rises or are unable to negotiate a salary? Linking the 18.8 per cent pay gap to women’s capacity to bargain rather than to the institutional and workplace practices that are failing to organise and value work performance equally is not fair.
Or is it is because of pay secrecy? This policy prevents employees from discussing their pay with other colleagues and since 2009 at least 50 per cent of organisations were found to have been enforcing it. In addition, a further 3 per cent of workplace leaders said they would punish employees if they shared their pay information. Pay secrecy allows companies to pay their employees as they think without justification – women may be subject to pay discrimination for years without finding out and taking action.
So, how do we close this gap?
Maybe we should follow in the footsteps of the US and UK who both introduced provisions to promote pay transparency and removed restrictions on the sharing of pay information. This effectively decreases the chance of women being treated unequally when they attempt to establish whether there is a difference between pay and that of a colleague.