Understanding wage gap
We have women and men doing the same work and not receiving equal pay. Yes, wage gap still exists.
You cannot blame it on women’s choices or child-rearing, as I will show in this article.
It’s systemic and problematic due to being so deeply ingrained into our work culture and attitudes.
Do I believe that we must wait for lawmakers or cultural change to be the saving grace of women everywhere? No, I do not.
Here are some of the facts you need to know about the wage gap – and some tips on how to bridge the gap
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) determined that the gender pay gap in 2019 was around 20.8%. Since 2014 the gap has reduced by approximately 4% on full remuneration. This is a good sign but not good enough.
Your industry can influence just how big a gap you face. And it’s not always a case of it being traditionally male-dominated industries with the largest gap. Indeed, women in finance, insurance and real estate face double that of the national wage gap average. Meanwhile, women in mining and manufacturing are squeaking below the national average at a 13.8% overall gap. This is down by 0.2% in the past two years.
This is further proof the commonly played cards of women’s lifestyle and parenting choices have no significant bearing on where the inequality lies.
The problem is not uniquely Australian. The USA has a wage gap of 78% that varies drastically between location and ethnicity. People of colour are paid much less than their white working counterparts. The UK records an overall wage gap of 17.3% based on 2019 data.
We don’t have to accept this as the only answer we have. You can negotiate a better salary by asking the right questions and having the right approach.
Also, women tend to overvalue the tradeoffs they make for flexibility. There's this gratitude that spills into devaluing women’s worth at a fundamental level. Your employer may be offering you great flexibility, but that shouldn’t undermine your true worth.
As women we also tend to be people pleasers by nature. Often lacking the confidence to negotiate salary offers or asking for additional benefits.
You don’t have to be confrontational or egotistical to command a decent wage – you do however need to know your worth so you can confidently stand your ground. Here are some tips on this from The Salary Coach..
- Do your research on the market and compare your current wage with industry averages for the same sort of work. You can find a wealth of data in industry trend reports, places such as SEEK and other job portals, by looking at the salary ranges offered on comparable jobs – and by asking around!
- Have a specific salary goal in mind and have a Plan B. For example, you may be chasing a raise of 20% over your current salary. This might not be feasible in current conditions, but it sets a vital starting point for the conversation. You may find that a raise won’t be as high or cannot happen. Yet it doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate other working conditions
- Don’t apologise or shrink from the conversation. While humility often gets us more places than hubris, confidence is another thing entirely. If you are well researched, know what you want and practise the ask, you’ll have a greater chance of success
- Know your worth. Sure, you might be able to be there to pick up the kids or work from home but understand your true contribution and what that's worth to an employer.