Graduates and gender pay equity

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.

That’s why I launched my Equal Pay Amendment Bill that prompted the whole Alasdair Thompson melt down, and a petition with the CTU to show we need law changes.

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!

7 Comments Posted

  1. Many public sector pay scales are public, and some public sector organisations use “job evaluation” schemes which use a method of translating job skills into points.


    “…The World Bank’s latest World Development Report – which focuses on gender equality around the world –

    – offers some stark facts about how women and girls fare in developing countries – despite decades of progress.

    Wealth: Women represent 40% of the world’s labor force but hold just 1% of the world’s wealth.

    Wages: Salaried women workers earn 62 cents for every $1 that men earn in Germany –

    – 64 cents in India and about 80 cents in Mexico and Egypt.

    Women entrepreneurs fare far worse, earning 34 cents for every $1 men earn in Ethiopia –

    – and just 12 cents in Bangladesh relative to every $1 for men…”



  3. I agree with Catherine that making pay scales public would be beneficial. I imagine even the neo-liberals might agree with this, because after all free markets are supposed to work best when there is a free flow of this sort of information. The interesting thing is that many people who believe they are getting paid less than their colleagues may be in for a surprise if they saw all the details.

    I was once explicitly told by a boss not to tell others about my pay level, because the others (who were at least equally, but differently skilled) might be unhappy. I ignored this advice, because who I talk to about how much I get paid is up to me. I now work in an environment where everyone’s pay is known (or can be worked out if one cared to work it out). Before payslips were made electronic, they were simply put in public mail boxes without any envelope or other devices to conceal the information (in other words, I could browse through other people’s pay slips while looking for mine, and see how much they earned). This is a really nice thing, because once pay levels are known, then all the nasty little comments (such as “I wonder how much he/or she gets paid for licking the boss’ ass” and so on) just disappear.

  4. Hmmmm. Lets see what the OECD say.

    The difference in earnings between tertiary graduates and people who have completed only upper secondary education is generally greater that between people who have completed upper secondary and people who have only completed lower secondary education. The earnings premium for adults (25-64 year-olds) with tertiary education, compared with upper-secondary education, ranges from 15% in New Zealand to 119% in Hungary.

    Well, that’s the really bad news. Of all OECD countries, New Zealand has the least benefit for obtaining a degree. And that is indicitive of what is wrong with the country; you generally don’t need a degree to milk cows.

    Tertiary education boosts women’s earnings more than men’s in 10 of the 25 OECD countries examined in this indicator (Australia, Austria, Canada, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). The reverse is true for the remaining countries, except for Turkey, where the benefits are about the same.

    Whats this? Women in New Zealand get a better boost for a degree than men?

    However, in all countries, and at all levels of educational attainment, women generally earn less than their male counter-parts

    And there it is. Nothing to do with education whatsoever.

    Another flawed study.

  5. You can’t really draw any conclusions as this is a rather weak analysis. It fails to control for both hours worked and industry. You can start screaming sexism when research shows a discrepancy in the hourly rate between men and women in the same position with the same qualifications.

  6. Jeez, talk about being sexist! I dont think I have read anything so sexist as Catherine’s Bill since Gone With The Wind.

    Catherines Bill et al ascribes roles/attributes/traints/actions according to gender, and exludes many sectors of scoiety from its provisions, such as saying “Women should be safe from violence” which is all fine and good, but implies men dont deserve equal treatment. Surely we shold all be safe from violence?

    By advocating “targeted employment” catherine is seeking to punish/discriminate against large sectors of the community for the (perceived?) sins of others. Quite how that is socially resposnsible and cummunity orientated is fancinating (unless catherion does not thing some secotrs opf the community are part of the community?)

    Restricting Paid Parental Leave as Catherins suggest is just downrigh sexist, as is advocating treating mothers in prson differntly from fathers in prison.

    I am appalled at Catherines sexism and discrimination, and call on her to renounce such bigotry or resign.

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