According to economic Security 4 Women (S4W), the pay gap is most significant in Western Australia with 25%. S4W also state that 1.5 million women are employed in SMEs, a sector largely overlooked in the pay-equity debate, which has mainly focused on businesses of over 100 employees. And the Graduate Careers Astralia 2010 Gradstats show that “female graduates on entering the workforce earn $2,000 per annum less than male graduates” and “women executive managers in the ASX200 earn an average of 28.3% less than their male peers” (EOWWA, 2011).
But are we really so badly off? The Better Life Index shows that Australian is among the top nations for a quality standard of living. In 2010, Australia was second to Norway on the Human Development Index (HDI)before New Zealand and the USA. Australia’s index has consistently been above the OECD countries. When examining income, one of the three main HDI indicators (besides health and education), Norway is the highest in the top four countries, followed by the US, Australia and New Zealand. Others in the top 10 ranked higher or the same as Australia are the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden; and countries ranked slightly below Australia are Germany and
Ireland. Even more interesting the report also includes a Gender Inequality Index (GII). “This measure captures the loss in achievements due to gender disparities in the dimensions of reproductive health, empowerment and labour force participation.” The GII for the top 10 countries ranks Australia 5th after the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Germany, and followed by Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and the US.
Clearly the gender pay gap exists. However, Australian’s have a good life. Could this be jeopardised if the salaries for women rise? With higher salaries there will be higher cost of goods and services produced and this rise may be swallowed up by larger costs of living.
Questioning the status quo and challenging the current thinking about the
gender pay gap here are some alternatives to increasing women’s wages:
- for men’s to be lowered, or
- to increase women’s and lower men’s wages and create a gender wage
Lobbying for lower wages for men...well do I need to say more! It would make for an interesting discussion, drawing men into it, rather than leaving them out of it.