A new study from the Ministry of Education shows in many occupations tertiary qualifications make very little difference when it comes to the gender pay gap. Four years after graduating, women earn on average $4380 less than men with the same qualifications. The only professions where this is not the case are the performing arts and information systems. In some sectors, the pay difference is nearly $8000 per year.
Everyone is scratching their heads over this entirely predictable result and attributing it to hours worked, likelihood of time off for pregnancy and/or the taboo around the discussion of pay. The EEO office rightly advises women to be informed about pay rates and to call for transparency, but let’s get real about the workplace and access to information. It’s very hard to know whether you have equal pay or pay equity unless the pay scales are made public. It’s very hard to discuss who is paid what in a contract dominated environment.
There is an even bigger taboo than discussing your salary or wage which is the naming of sexism as a cause of the gender pay gap. I don’t think individual women should have to prove that they are discriminated against in order to change the systemic discrimination which the study demonstrates, but I do think we need to start somewhere.
Women graduates, like many other women, are not getting a fair go, and my Bill and petition are part of the campaign to move this issue towards solutions. Women (or indeed men) who support pay equality in their workplace can download the petition and sign it here!