Tuesday 7 March 2017

Rage post about the gender pay gap: warning contains ALL CAPS

So there's new local research out today that the gender pay gap is a) real and b) primarily due to conscious and unconscious bias.

Firstly YES.

And also: it is good to have this in the public arena and being discussed, and for the Minister for Women to accept the findings as opposed to going "but we really need more research to be sure".   It is a victory for all those good folks who have been fighting to get this issue looked at on the facts, for many years now.

Because it is undeniable, it really is, that there is a gender pay gap.  There has always been a gender pay gap.  It was a little smaller a few years ago (went down to 11%, now back up to 12%) but it has ALWAYS BEEN THERE.

And yet people have sought to deny it, explain it away, it's because women want to be paid less, take time out for children, aren't as qualified as men, don't need as much income because the man of the house is the breadwinner.  WRONG.

And we knew these dismissals were wrong.  Lots and lots of us.  Not just from lived experience or from observing others around us but from the other many ways that workplaces, and society, treats women as less than men apart from pay, and from statistics, and from court cases and union agitation.  WE KNEW THIS ALREADY.

A little digression about "conscious and unconscious bias".  Can we please just call it what it is?  SEXISM.  That's what you call it when people are intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against women, individually or collectively, because they are women.  It's sexism, it's always been sexism - even the other explanations (now proven to have had only a small impact) like time out for childcare, taking jobs with lower responsibilities, not asking for promotion or pay increases blah blah blah all have a basis in sexism.

So how do we stop sexism, vis a vis the gender pay gap?  Apparently we need to raise awareness.

This is the point at which I start to get a certain song from That Bloody Woman (NSFW lyrics) stuck in my head.


Yes, it probably will help, and it will give the many many organisations that ALREADY KNEW THIS new strength to push for implementation actual practical measures that will close the gap and treat workers fairly.

But excuse me for a moment while I rage inwardly against the people who only now see the truth that was there the whole time, and pledge to eliminate this Awful New Injustice They Had Never Heard Of Before Today.

I heard someone on the radio saying there is a strong business case to pay women fairly.  Of course there is, there always was.  Just as there are strong economic arguments to support the Living Wage, paying teachers more, showing that cleaners bring more value to society than hedge fund managers.


Because businesses who get to pay lower wages save money in the short term.  Anyone who has ever worked in the union movement or a strongly unionised workplace will be able to tell you this -  for too many in management and above keeping the quarterlywage bill low is seen as essential, even when it undermines longer term benefits like staff retention, and increased productivity.

The tyranny of a corporate approach (in government too) that demands the lowest possible wage bill, and the lowest possible number of staff, will continue unless we ACTUALLY MAKE IT STOP.

That means legislation folks, not just raising awareness.  LAW CHANGES, sweet sweet law changes that make it necessary to STOP paying people less based on irrelevancies like gender identity and race.

We've asked nicely for pay equity for many years.  We've even asked assertively and with facts, like men do (eye roll).


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