Feminism/ Male rights

The female pay gap: Fact or fiction?

The perceived gender pay gap is almost considered a fact of life in the current climate, with most opposition to its existence continually being drowned out with slander and castigation. In any case, as this forms the basis of much of the feminist argument, I thought I would break down a few claims within this mainstream and often purported position, and offer my own assessment of its legitimacy.

Claim No.1: ‘A gender pay gap exists between males and females

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the gender pay gap, measured in terms of the ‘difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings’, is approximately 17.9 %. That is, men on average, earn 17.9 % more than their female counterparts, when in full- time work. Thus, the figures revealed by the ABS reveal a definite, reasonable, and noticeable difference in income earned between males and females. Clearly, a pay gap exists, however, the reasons and factors behind this, as will be demonstrated, are far different than what may originally appear.

Claim No.2: ‘The gender pay gap exists due to discrimination against women in the workplaces, sexism, and broader patriarchal structures’.

Essentially, this is the crux of what many focus on; that continued injustices against women due to the mere fact of their sex, prevent them from earning comparable incomes to men. Workplaces are portrayed as ‘boys clubs’, and this inevitably contributes to the emergence of the glass ceiling that exists in a wide range of professional fields. No doubt, some discrimination against women exists in the workplace, and this may contribute to poor working conditions, and/or lower pay. But an examination of the facts is importantly required in order to establish what exactly the driving factors are, in creating the gap in pay between men and women.

A factor surely conducive to lower wages, is the continued trend of females opting out of science and mathematics subjects. In fact, a 2015 study found that nearly a quarter of females students chose not to partake in any mathematics, in their final years of formal schooling. In an era in which both sides of politics, are stressing the need for investment in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and the importance of these areas in achieving economic and job growth, a continued female reluctance to choose the vital subjects is sure to hold them back. According to the Labor party website, “75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge”. While I do not know whether this reluctance comes from a lack of expectations, social pressures, or biological factors, this unwillingness to challenge more rewarding subjects will certainly inhibit women now and into the future, in earning greater salaries.

Likewise, the fact that women often dominate traditionally lower salary areas of work, such as nursing and teaching, is indicative of women working in positions which generally do not earn high incomes. This fact has nothing to do with women being underpaid, rather, that women (whether this is thought of as fair or unfair), in these cases are working in areas that are in less demand to doctors, or engineers.

Moreover, the balancing of family and work responsibilities, is another inhibiting factor. Most (but not all) women who opt to start a family, are the primary carers for their children, and often seek flexible hours, or hours that are better catered to their requirements, as a priority. These priorities are largely opposed to men, who place far greater value on income growth, as they often have less family responsibilities. Obviously, the significance of the role of raising children can hardly be understated, but when women subsequently seek hours flexible to them, this will always damage potential for wage growth.

Harvard professor Claudi Goldin provides a useful comparison when reflecting on the impact of the female tendency to seek flexible work hours. The example given was the difference between a well-paying job at a big law firm and a corporate counsel. In this hypothetical ‘big law firm’, the job may pay more, but it also demands longer hours, travel, and greater availability of its employees. In contrast, the corporate counsel would pay less but provide greater stability in hours, something of importance to women. Technically, these 2 jobs both involve work in the same industry, and if a man were working at the major law firm, and a women were working in a corporate counsel, as in the above example, this would statistically equate to a ‘gender pay gap’ with ‘women receiving less for the same work’.

Such a claim would be skewed and inaccurate, and yet it is largely how the myth of the ‘gender pay gap’, has been so effectively perpetuated. It is 2016, and there is no need to continue to spreads outright falsehoods, for political correctness’ sake. The idea of the gender pay gap, and the idea that the power- hungry male is continuing to stamp his monopoly on the perks, benefits, and control of higher incomes, is fiction, and should be regarded as such.


2 thoughts on “The female pay gap: Fact or fiction?

  1. I have to say, this is a nicely written piece. Just the other day there were some debates about this on Fox News and it agrees with your piece. As do I after hearing and reading the info.

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