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.

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