Who’s in the mood for a little myth-busting?
Today is Equal Pay Day. To
celebrate commiserate we thought it would be worth reviewing six of the best excuses for the pay gap – and why they are completely ridiculous.
1. Karma will rectify the pay gap!
Last year Microsoft’s global CEO Satya Nadella prompted a pretty swift and immediate stream of feedback regarding the wisdom he shared at a women in tech conference. “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.”
He went on: “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have,” he added. “It’s good karma. It will come back.” To his credit he later offered an unreserved apology and said his advice was wrong. As things stand, if anyone is benefitting from any pay karma swirling around there out there, it ain’t women.
2. If women just asked for more money the pay gap would disappear!
If only! As tempting as it is to blame women’s deficient earnings on their deficient negotiation skills, there’s a stack of compelling evidence that shows when women do ask for more money they’re often punished for it. Why? Because women who ask for money are considered pushy. And apparently no one wants to pay a pushy woman any extra.
3. It’s a myth!
News Limited columnist, Miranda Devine is a significant proponent of this argument. “I know of not a single job where the pay for the sexes is different,” she wrote in one of her many columns on the subject.
It isn’t a myth, it’s maths. The difference between what men and women earn in fulltime roles is 17.9%. That figure is not a figment of any person’s imagination. It is drawn from data the Australian Bureau of Statistics collects. It doesn’t mean that every woman earns exactly 17.9% less than a man in the same job. It means the total of what men working in fulltime roles earn is 17.9% more than what women working in fulltime roles earn.
In certain industries it’s much bigger. In management, for example, men earn 45% more than their female managerial peers. At this point it’s worth asking a few questions. Is this just a spectacularly lucky coincidence for men? Are men just naturally wired to earn more? Or, are we just naturally wired to pay men more? Dig into the data and it’s obvious the latter is at play.
4. It’s because women work part-time!
Social researcher for the University of Melbourne Mark Wooden has said that the reason that men get paid 15% more than women because “they put in more time at the workplace”.
It’s true that far more women work part-time more than men do. But the part-time wage gap is a whole different kettle of fish from the full-time pay gap. The part-time pay gap is tricky because some people in the ‘part-time’ working category could be working 8 hours a week while others will be working 34 hours a week: both are categorised as part time making the average hard to calculate. This analysis illustrates that men working part-time still earn more than women.
5. Because women have babies!
Sorry to be a stickler for facts here but, in the main, men and women have babies. And when they do, those lucky devils on the fathering side of the equation earn a tidy little baby bonus in the realm of a 6% salary boost. Mums, however, suffer an immediate drop in their income. Perhaps as a small gift from karma for having given birth? The pay gap isn’t explained by the fact women bear children but the pay gap does bear out the fact our workplaces and our childcare facilities, for example, still make it difficult for women to combine paid work with family life. Why aren’t men impacted by this? Because as Annabel Crabb points out many men are ably assisted by having a wife at home. Very few women are afforded the same.
6. Men are better educated and more qualified!
To borrow some words from Prime Minister Tony Abbott: nope, nope, nope. In Australia and overseas it is consistently shown that only a small proportion of the earnings differences between women and men can be explained by differences in education and work experience or other productivity related characteristics.
Why do these myths matter? Well, at the current rate of change it’s estimated that we’ll be waiting 70 (SEVENTY!) years for equal pay. And keep in mind very few of us are paying 17.9% less on rent, groceries, bills, clothes, drinks, movies. The list goes on. The time for equal pay is now.
Hit us with your other “explanations” for the pay gap?