Thursday, 11 June 2009

Issues that effect women

The soon to be MP for Mt Albert answered the Hand Mirror's election survey. He was asked what were the issues facing the women of Mt Albert:
Women come from many different groups – with different issues: For many professional women the gender pay gap is a constant problem which the National Government has made worse by backtracking on all of the previous Labour Government’s initiatives to fix – such as canning the Pay & Employment Equity Unit that was undertaking reviews in the public service.
Professional women? The deep ignorance of politicians and the stereotypes they propagate can be staggering.* It's also a neat trick, a way of minimising women's concerns - those professional women and their desire to be paid the same as men, that's only one group of women's problem.

The gender pay gap is not some obscure concern of professional women, but a systematic differentiation which effects almost all women in some way or another. Women as a earn on average 85% of what men earn - but the gap gets bigger for non-white women, and working class women.

Pay equity is the demand for equal pay for work of equal value and one of the reasons for that gap.** The difference in pay between female dominated industries and male dominated industries doesn't just involve nurses and teachers and the limited number of women dominated professional jobs, but also caregivers, teacher aides, cleaners, and retail workers.

I've seen it before, the tendency to assume that the fight for equal pay, and the end of the gender pay gap is mainly a middle class women's concern. This does a great disservice to the history for the fight for equal pay in New Zealand, which was fought and won over decades.

As a unionist I couldn't finish this post without pointing out that the gender pay gap is not just a women's concern. I was working late tonight, and was still there when the cleaners came round - they were all men, but they were paid women's wages.

* Further on David Shearer also states that 'stay at home mothers' might worry about not being able to afford things for their children. Ignoring that mothers do the vast majority of the shopping and childcare, whatever other work they do. The ideology of the public sphere and the private sphere appears to be alive and well as a way of dividing women.

** Other reasons why women earn less include straight out discrimination in pay and promotion, and the effects of men doing considerably less unpaid work than women.

23 comments:

Cactus Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cactus Kate said...

"I was working late tonight, and was still there when the cleaners came round - they were all men, but they were paid women's wages".

Isn't that what you want? For men to be paid women's wages? Everyone to be paid the same for equal work?

Tui said...

No, Kate, the point is that your job would have to pay you a hell of a lot to get you to clean your work toilets: we let ourselves get away with underpaying people to do absolutely freakin' awful jobs, jobs which are underpaid because they are perceived as women's jobs and therefore not valuable (because you know women don't need to support their family, they have a man for that.)

For example: pretend that there is no pay gap in teaching and male and female teachers are paid the same (untrue, but hey.) When teaching became seen as a woman's profession rather than a man's profession, teachers' pay decreased *relative to other professions*. Although all teachers are equally being paid less (in this fantasy world where there's no pay gap in teaching), pay equity still doesn't exist.

Women as a earn on average 85% of what men earn - but the gap gets bigger for non-white women, and working class women.

Actually I believe that's true for women of colour, but not true for working-class women. The gap is more *important* for working-class women because they start off at such a low rate that a small gap makes a big difference, but the gender pay gap actually gets larger the more education you have (especially between professions - am I allowed to use the word profession in this context or will I get scolded for being overly middle-class? I really don't think "jobs" captures the sense I mean here - but it's also very large in academia, for example.)

* Further on David Shearer also states that 'stay at home mothers' might worry about not being able to afford things for their children. Ignoring that mothers do the vast majority of the shopping and childcare, whatever other work they do. The ideology of the public sphere and the private sphere appears to be alive and well as a way of dividing women.

I think it's a bit unfair to take a statement which I think is clearly made to support the right of all women, as opposed to just wealthy women, to choose to be SAHMs, and turn it into something which fails to acknowledge that women also do the majority of unpaid work when they are working. Not every issue can be addressed in every sentence.

Grant said...

Tui: "pretend that there is no pay gap in teaching and male and female teachers are paid the same (untrue, but hey.)"

Really? My wife is a teacher and to the best of my knowledge she is paid the same as her male colleagues. Their Collective Agreement doesn't differentiate based on gender with regard to pay.

Anonymous said...

If teachers are paid unfairly then that is a bad job by the PPTA to not get this agreed upon.

It seems that you like the punishment Maia, Shearer doesn't get it and Goff can call women beautiful and get away with it... because this blog endorses them (most of you)

Tui said...

Well teaching jobs that are dominated by women (early childhood education, for example, also primary education) is still underpaid compared to secondary school teaching. More principals are men, etc.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the key problem your arbitrary interpretation of "equal work"? Is an early chidlhood teacher, for example, really equal to a secondary teacher in required skill to perform the role? Really? Isn't that why they're paid less, rather than because they posess a vagina and not a penis?

Tui said...

Is an early chidlhood teacher, for example, really equal to a secondary teacher in required skill to perform the role?

Yes. That's why early childhood education *by itself* is a three year degree. (Secondary teaching is a *one* year qualification plus a Bachelor's in whatever they want to teach, which would usually take about 2 1/2 years. So there's about 6mos more education required to be a secondary teacher, but in terms of the actual *teaching skills required*, early childhood education is more demanding.)

M said...

"we let ourselves get away with underpaying people to do absolutely freakin' awful jobs, jobs which are underpaid because they are perceived as women's jobs and therefore not valuable"

Tui, you are missing the point and sounding rather sexist. These jobs are not underpaid relative to you because they are "womens jobs" (which is a little odd comsidering they are men) but because it's realitvely unskilled labour. Want a pay rise/better job? Get educated, or find another job - it's their chioce.

Maia said...

Tui - it was the dichotomy he set up between professional women who care about pay equity and SAHM's who make decisions for their family. Particularly in the context of talking about how different women are.

Cactus Kate - what I want is for women's wages not to be lower than men's wages. Therefore female dominated industries would not be paid less than male dominated industries.

Anonymous 1: You really don't know anything about my politics if you think I support Goff or Shearer.

Maia said...

Oh God M - you really know nothing about pay in industries do you? It is a fact that wages in female dominated industries - no matter the education or training required, is lower than the pay in male dominated industries of the same education or training (or however else you want to measure).

Maia said...

Tui - I get your general point but you're wrong about the training of ECE and Secondary teachers.

My brother is training to be an ECE teacher at the moment, since he already has a degree he is doing a year long diploma in teaching. The same as he would if he was training to be a secondary teacher. You do not need the three year degree to be an ECE teacher, unless you don't already have a degree.

And I'm pretty sure that ECE/Primary/secondary teachers have pay equity (although different conditions - secondary teachers get less non contact time). The pay gap in schools:

1. Promotions (the glass elevator for men)
2. Teachers pay compared to other professions
3. Support staff, who are mostly women, and get paid absolutely appallingly.

Grant said...

According to a quick google search, ECE teachers have a collective agreement that ensures pay parity with primary teachers, who in turn have pay parity with secondary teachers.

As to more principals being men, I just read a study on principal appointments in New Zealand in 2008 - 59% of applicants were women and only 56% of those appointed were women, so I guess there may be something of a gap there.

Grant said...

Ah, I took too long to write my previous comment and got scooped by Maia!

As to Maia's three pay gaps:
1. Do you mean the promotion via experience, or to positions of responsibility? The former basically happens as long as you perform acceptably in your observations each year, while the latter requires application and gives more money for more work.
2. I'm not sure which professions you're comparing to, but I have to say that on just my wife's income as a teacher, we're not exactly poor.
3. Totally agree on the support staff issue, that desperately needs fixing.

Psycho Milt said...

I've seen it before, the tendency to assume that the fight for equal pay, and the end of the gender pay gap is mainly a middle class women's concern. This does a great disservice to the history for the fight for equal pay in New Zealand, which was fought and won over decades.

"The end of the gender pay gap" and "equal pay" are different issues, and skepticism regarding the former does no disservice to the latter. As you say, the fight for equal pay was fought and won in NZ, and is over. Pay equity is something different, largely a smoke-and-mirrors job with statistics, and very much open to argument.

M said...

"It is a fact that wages in female dominated industries ... is lower than the pay in male dominated industries of the same education or training"

Tui you are making totally the wrong conclustion from this fact, which is not that men are paid more than women - but is actually that two different indutries have different pay scales.
Why don't you compare rubbish collectors (male dominated) vs Executive PA's(female dominated)? You are comparing apples with oranges. Different job different pay.

What you should compare to make a valid comclusion is pay scale of men vs women with the same qualifications in same industry.

Men are more likely to make life-decisions that will lead to a higher annual salary. Males are more apt (than women) to relocate or travel for work, take on more dangerous jobs (over 90 percent of workplace deaths are reported to be men), work in the difficult (ie boring) sciences, seek jobs that require financial risk and work jobs in unpleasant environments.

Women commonly prefer jobs with shorter and more flexible hours to accommodate the demands of family. Compared to men, the majority of working women generally favor jobs that involve little danger, no travel and good social skills. Such jobs generally pay less.

Also, Tui, there are plenty of professions where women earn more than men. eg Sales, Statistics, Legislators, Financial Analysts, advertising , PR.....

http://misses.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=career&action=display&thread=1711

M said...

Oops sorry that last post was in response to Maia, not Tui... ;)

Maia said...

It's partly my fault for allowing myself to get distracted. But I'm really frustrated in the way this topic thread has drifted from the specific point I was making.

I am not going to provide the gender pay gap 101 for ignorant commentators. There are other posts in this blog that have gone over this information (and a 10 part series on Alas.

M said...

thanks for hte link - read it before.

I'm just trying to make sense of the point you're trying to make? What is it?


you're obvioulsy not a teacher yet you're preaching like you work in the industry.

Some pople get paid rubbish? True

Female dominate industries paid lower than male dominated? true.

Your conclusions you make from these facts are however incorrect.

All professional women friends I have are paid as equals (actually they earn more than my male friends).

The problem is the choice of career, not gender inequality.

Anonymous said...

I am a early childhood teacher and would like to clear up a few things.
Firstly early childhood teachers do not have guaranteed pay parity with primary or secondary teachers. Kindergarten teachers do, there is a difference between the two. There is no way in hell that ECE teachers get more non-contact time than secondary teachers, however it would be great if they did.
Secondly, the early childhood collective agreement does not apply to all Early Childhood teachers, only the ones who are members of NZEI. This is a fairly low number, as the early childhood sector is mostly privately owned and NZEI have struggled to up it's membership.
Thirdly, M seems to think that it's all a matter of career choice. Does this mean I have to limit my career choices to male-dominated professions in order to be paid fairly for the skills I have? Because it seems quite a challenge to be paid fairly in the female dominated ones.

Maia said...

Sorry Anonymous - I meant secondary teachers get more non-contact time - that's what happens when you comment in a hurry. I also knew that it was only kindergarten's that get pay equity and should have made that clearer.

M - I've said that I don't want to engage in pay equity 101 on this post, there are other posts that will do that. Could you please respect that request.

SimonD said...

Tui said

"..No, Kate, the point is that your job would have to pay you a hell of a lot to get you to clean your work toilets.."

and there we have it in a nutshell, the delusional ramblings of a weaker mind.

Pay me lots and I'll work cleaning toilets too. The point is you'll find lots of people who will work for less money than Kate will to clean toilets.

It's called a free market, Kate has a choice and so does everyone else. Put more simply,
if you can't find good toilet cleaners in the market, then you will pay higher wages.

Anonymous said...

The pay rates reflect supply and demand.

Also, when women present the exact same risk to employers as men (if employers need to cover positions for maternal leave, that's an added cost), and make the same work-oriented career choices (as opposed to family, maternal and social choices) as men, they'll earn exactly the same.

If women did provide equal work, and are underpaid relative to men, then very few men would be hired. Why? Because women would offer a higher profit margin.

Women don't provide a higher profit margin, because their pay reflects their risks and choices.