The gender pay gap has always been an issue of much controversy and debate. And I, as a young feminist, believe that it is something to be eradicated. However, before we can do that, we need to get to the root cause of it all – what is causing the gender pay gap in the first place?
I recently had an argument with a close friend of mine who was under the belief that a man simply earns more because he is a man. Now, this may have happened 40 years ago, however, in this day and age, it is illegal for this to happen – it is Federal Law. Additionally, in my line of work, I obviously recruit people for roles for a whole range of clients spanning across a multitude of industries on a day to day basis. I can say that no client has ever decided to pay a male more because he is a male. The most skilled and most qualified person generally gets the role and the salary that goes along with it.
The real reason for the gender pay gap is the industries that men work in compared to the industries that women work in.
Now, I’m sure there are many people out there who disagree with that statement but let me show you the proof to back it up.
Below is a table depicting the proportion of males and females that were employed from 2017 to 2018 (ABS, September 2018).
It is evident that males dominate industries such as Mining and IT whilst females dominate Education and Healthcare/Social Assistance. In May 2018, employees in the Mining industry had the highest Full-Time Adult Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings in Australia at $2,592.00, whereas Education had weekly earnings of $1,800 (ABS, August 2018).
Women are much more likely than men to be working part-time. In 2017–18, 44% of employed women and 16% of employed men aged 20–74 years old worked part-time.
In 2018 the average weekly pay for full time women was 85% of the average weekly pay for full time men, and this has also been reasonably stable over the last decade. This number frustrates and angers me and at first glance you may think that’s not fair – how come men earn so much more?
It is all to do with societal norms and the way in which we perceive the traditional gender roles for men and women. Think of school for example, I went to an all-girls school and the electives offered to me were sewing, home economics, dance, however, the boys school down the road from me had technical drawing, woodwork, two different types of physics. From a young age these gender norms are instilled into us.
Many females are never encouraged to pursue science or engineering or mining as it as seen as a “man’s job”. Just as men are not expected to be nurses or teachers as it is seen as “feminine”. This needs to change, dramatically.
We need to challenge these heteronormative views of society. Women are often the ones who will put their careers on hold to look after children while men are seen as the breadwinners. Let’s change this. Let’s challenge this.
One day, during a lecture at university, my lecturer told every female in the room to put up their hand and said “why are you here? You’re just going to get pregnant and put your career on hold anyway”. We must alter this way of thinking. Women can aspire to be so much more. We need to encourage women to follow their careers and not feel bad for this. We live in a time when a woman can aspire to be so much more than a homemaker to her husband.
I work with several career driven women in senior roles who I feel so lucky to work with. That’s what I aspire to be like. We need more women encouraging women instead of letting men dominate those high paying industries. Let’s close that pay gap and combat gender stereotypes from a young age. The only way we will have equal pay is if we all change our mindset and get more diversity across industries between men and women.