Talking about pay equity

I was on Nights on Radio NZ last night, talking about pay equity.

The podcast of the talk is available here: Pundit: Feminist thought

As usual, I put together a set of notes for Bryan Crump, together with links to relevant articles. I’ve reproduced them below, with some extra notes.

Pay equity – discussion notes for Radio NZ Nights on Monday 13 October

Problem – women’s wages lagging behind men’s wages

NZ evidence – depends how you measure it – somewhere between 10% and 14%.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs gender pay gap data

Over the past few years, the gap between women’s and men’s wages in New Zealand has hovered around 10%. It got down to as low as 9.3% in 2012, but it’s gone back up to around 10% in the last couple of years.

The most recent information I could find puts the gender pay gap in NZ at about 14% – Radio NZ story from 4 October on the gender pay gap.

But we compare quite well to the US – the gender pay gap there is about 23% for full time workers (ref).

In Australia, one CEO who recognises that there is a pay gap got into trouble when he said that:

by hiring women, he got better-qualified employees to whom he was able to give more responsibility. “And [they were] still often relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender,” he concluded. To illustrate his point he showed a slide that said: “Women: Like Men, Only Cheaper.”

What causes it?

Standard explanations – caring duties, time out for pregnancy/ childcare, lack of flexible work, occupational segregation, experience, education. But research shows that even when you account for all of that, a pay gap remains. See NZ Herald – the true reasons behind the gender pay gap.

Some evidence that I find interesting, given that I started out as an accountant – men in accountancy with less than five years experience earn about $3,600 more than their female counterparts (Radio NZ story). At that stage of people’s careers, explanations based around pregnancy and childcare don’t seem to be quite so relevant.

What can be done about it?

Take a pay equity case, as Kristine Bartlett has done in NZ.

Encourage women to negotiate for higher wages but that’s a double edged sword.

Women earn less than men because they are seen as pushovers when they don’t negotiate hard and are seen as “ball-breakers” when they do, a psychologist says.

Or… we could always cut men’s wages!

Some other references:
A piece I wrote for the Dom Post about the gender pay gap a few years ago:
Isn’t it time to fix the pay gap?

Dr Jackie Blue on pay equity – Bridging the gender pay gap: Pay-up time at public service

A couple of research reports on the gender pay gap.
What causes the gender wage gap, from the Center for American Progress

Explaining the wage gap, from the American National Women’s Law Center.

Women in the House – updating the numbers

All the special votes have been counted, and as a result, Maureen Pugh (National) has lost her list seat, and Steffan Browning (Greens) comes in instead.

That changes the numbers around. We’re down to 38 women in the House, out of 121 MPs. That’s just 31.4% women – the lowest proportion of women in the House since 2002 (graph, txt file).

Here’s the breakdown by party, excluding the one person “parties” both of which are represented by men.

Greens – 7 men, 7 women, 50% women
Maori – 1 man, 1 woman, 50% women
Labour – 20 men, 12 women, 37.5% women
National – 43 men, 17 women, 28% women
New Zealand First – 9 men, 2 women, 18% women

Women are 51% of the population, but less than a third of our elected representatives in Parliament are women. That’s a disgrace.

Women in the House – some numbers from the 2014 election

Based on the election night results, we will have 121 MPs in the House, of whom 39 will be women. That’s 32.2%. It’s the same proportion of women as there was following the election in 2011, and it’s down from 34% in 2008.

Excluding parties with just one MP (ACT and United Future), here are the numbers for each party.

Greens – 6 men, 7 women, 54% women
Maori – 1 man, 1 woman, 50% women
Labour – 20 men, 12 women, 37.5% women
National – 44 men, 17 women, 28% women
New Zealand First – 9 men, 2 women, 18% women

Well done to the Greens and the Maori party.

My own party needs to do some very careful work on selection. The proportion of women in the Labour caucus doesn’t meet the party’s goal of 45% at this election, and it’s slipped backwards from 2011. We lost three strong women last night – Moana Mackey, Carol Beaumont, and Maryan Street – and that’s very hard to take.

We have good Maori and Pasifika representation in caucus, but no Chinese New Zealanders, and no Indian New Zealanders.

UPDATE: The numbers have changed due to special votes – see Women in the House – updating the numbers.

On the radio, talking about domestic violence

I was on Nights on Radio NZ earlier this week, talking about domestic violence. It was, as ever, a difficult topic to talk about.

You can find a recording of the talk here: Click on “Pundit: Feminist thought”

I talked about some of the myths about domestic violence, including the “myth” that women are violent too. This is not actually a myth, because it’s true. But, the scale is different. I’ve come across one study which has some reasonably good stats – domestic violence as reported by children.

Domestic violence as witnessed by New Zealand children

This is from the Dunedin longitudinal study. The researchers have been following an entire cohort of children, all the children born in Dunedin between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973. That’s a very powerful dataset. In this particular article, the researchers look at the children’s reports of domestic violence, c/f reports by perpetrators or by victims. Here’s what they found.

One-quarter (24%) of the sample reported violence or threats of violence directed from one parent to the other. Nine percent reported infrequent assaults while one in 10 reported more than five acts of physical violence. In violent families, 55% reported violence by fathers only, 28% by both partners, and 16% by mothers only.

I also talked about the testimony from Sir Patrick Stewart. It is compelling and distressing.

Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence

There’s more from Patrick Stewart here: Sir Patrick Stewart’s powerful message about domestic violence

If you are affected by domestic violence, then Women’s Refuge can help.

Or phone Women’s Refuge on 0800 REFUGE / 0800 733843

There was so much that we didn’t have time to talk about, such as the chronic underfunding of Women’s Refuge, and that women are in most danger as they prepare to leave or just after they leave which is why “she should just leave” is such a dangerous myth, or that it is widespread and occurs in all social groups.

And there was something that affected me more than almost anything. I put up a Facebook post, letting people know that I would be on the air talking about domestic violence. And immediately, some of my friends told me stories.

My daughter got out of her marriage physically unharmed on the whole, though her ex did blame bruising on her thighs on their then 3 year old son – he made an affidavit to the Family Court and they believed him FFS!! But the psychological battering was something else – she was either a useless wife and mother or a useless mother and wife.

Good luck Deborah, but the sector isnt positive. In Palmerston North since the Salvation Army closed its Womens Safe house last year due to lack of funding inhibiting its safe running, since then despite increased demand Palmerston North Women’s Refuge has gone from two safe houses that were well used to just one, have lost two staff members and are no longer able to run their children’s programme. The staff left have had their hours cut and are working the remaining hours on a voluntary basis, as well as now having to use their own cars. This leaves one safe house in the Manawatu/horowhenua district as PN womens refuge ‘area’ is the same as the DHB

Last year there were more than 90,000 domestic violence calls attended by police. It makes up 50% of their work. The form they (often called the Pol400) is 18 pages long, which accounts for the complexity of the relationships and the importance of getting the risk assessment correct. Despite all of this most police officers have no idea what happens to the Pol400 after it is filed.

We all know too much about domestic violence. And that tells you just how big a problem it is.

I’m running for Parliament

I’m running for Parliament this year, and I could do with a hand. Pop on over to my campaign blog: Deborah Russell for Labour in Rangitīkei, take a look at what I’ve been doing, and please, consider whether you could help me by making a donation.

I’ll be needing the donations to help pay for this:

Campaign plane!

Seriously, I could do with a hand. Details about how to make a donation, and what they will be used for, are on my campaign blog: Donate to my campaign.

Thank you.


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