Yes, the gender pay gap is real, and probably worse than you think

It’s an attempt to quantify the phenomenon that when women get out of bed in the morning, put on their suit (or scrubs or high-vis vest) and go to perform their full-time job – they bring home less money for the work that they do. About 14 per cent less, as it turns out.

Part of the reason is that women tend to work in industries which pay below-average wages, including aged and child care. In its issues paper for this week’s Jobs and Skills Summit, Treasury estimates that: “Industrial and occupational segregation explains around a quarter of the pay gap among full-time workers.”

It’s also true that when women go off to work, they are less likely than men to be employed in senior positions. He’s the CEO and she’s the secretary (although it’s worth noting the pay gap as calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency excludes some positions deemed as “junior”).

Quite why traditionally female work is so undervalued by society and why women fail to progress up the career ladder are worthy questions in themselves and something the gender pay gap helps to highlight.

But even after taking into account these compositional effects from industry segregation and seniority, researchers keep striking upon a stubborn bedrock of pay difference which is harder to explain away.

So far, I have only been discussing the pay disparity between male and female workers who work full-time.

This overlooks the important fact that women also tend to cluster in part-time work, largely due to those caring and other home responsibilities. Indeed, women are twice as likely as men to work part-time.

So, when you measure the total returns to employment across all employees – full and part-time – the gender pay gap blows out to about 30 per cent.

The ability to generate an income – an ability eroded by time spent out of the workforce – is a key factor in not only women but anyone’s ability to live independent lives, to leave unsuitable jobs or relationships where necessary.

Source: Yes, the gender pay gap is real, and probably worse than you think

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