If a woman earns less, and is in a household with a man and children (who are statistically 50% men), the entire household has less money on their disposal. My ex was severely underpaid, and while we were together, the burden of making the money was shifted on me in effect (which is partly to be responsible on my health issues now, I wouldn’t be such an workaholic if the situation was different). So the lesser wages of a female are a problem for the entire society.
– feminaust commenter
The comment above was sent to feminaust as a response to discussions about wage disparity being REAL. Yes, it’s true, women DO get paid less than men, across the world, in a million different ways, for a million different reasons, most of which don’t have anything to do with women enjoying having less money to spend than men. I do choose to work part time because I enjoy the extra hours it gives me to spend time with my loved ones, ride my horse and work in my garden. However, I am in a position to be able to do that. I live in a share house where the cost of living is decreased by sharing it across three, sometimes four people, I don’t have any dependents except my tiny puppy and my pony and I have enough job security to feel confident in my savings plans and financial security, plus I have fairly wealthy parents who I could run home to if things got really awful. For most of the female population of the world, this is not their reality and the commenter above is not just ignorant but offensive in his demands that women earning less actually impacts men more than women.Let’s have a look at a few of the common truths and lies about wage disparity.
a) all women are dependant on a man LIE
This is a common assumption that is not only heterosexist, suggesting that the only real relationship in which financial co-dependence exists but also reinforces women’s subordination to men through accepting that this is the way it should be, women should either be dependent on their husbands or their fathers and other situations, women being dependent only on themselves, sharing financial responsibilities with other women or women partners OR heaven help us, men being financially dependent on women!
I work in a female dominated industry where due to the feminisation of the sector, wages are lower than they should be (backed up by a court ruling to that tune) however in my open plan office of six desks and eight regular workers, many working part time, only one is male, only two are in a stable, heterosexual, nuclear family and all others are either single, supporting themselves OR in recently separated heterosexual relationships where they were the main income earner OR in same sex relationships where finances are managed independently with shared agendas OR are just independent women living their financially independent lives, most have and support children and most do so very successfully without a financially supportive man. Three of my female colleagues in question own their own homes from their own income and savings. While I can absolutely recognise that this is NOT a representative sample of the world, in my world, women earn money, spend money, save money and donate money independent of men. All the time.
b. women’s work is devalued and therefore paid less TRUTH
Have a look at the Equal Renumeration Order set down by Fair Work Australia in May 2011. Most importantly consider this statement;
“ In this decision we have concluded that for employees in the SACS industry there is not equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal or comparable value by comparison with workers in state and local government employment. We consider gender has been important in creating the gap between pay in the SACS industry and pay in comparable state and local government employment. And, in order to give effect to the equal remuneration provisions, the proper approach is to attempt to identify the extent to which gender has inhibited wages growth in the SACS industry and to mould a remedy which addresses that situation….”
So the reality, as determined by the people who know about this stuff is that in THIS industry all people are paid less than in comparable industries and that GENDER is the reason why (because while there are male SACS workers most of them are female).
c. women are devalued and in exactly the same job as a man, get paid less TRUTH
I have a friend who worked in a federal government department that will remain nameless but it could be universally acknowledged, should have known better. In this job she was one of two employees, employeed to do the same thing, with very similar qualifications, experience and expertise. She was a laydee, the other employee was a genteelman.
The man was being paid more.
End of story. Same qualifications. Same experience. Same contribution. Different renumeration. Why? Because someone in the line of management ASSUMED that the boy would be contributing more than the girl, because that’s an assumption that many, very intelligent people make on a daily basis without even noticing.
Thankfully the end of this story is my friend standing up for her rights and having her pay packet adjusted appropriately.
d. women are passed over for promotion TRUTH
This happens everywhere and there are some really interesting studies into how and why this happens.
In this study about “blind” auditions for orchestral appointments, female appointments rose by one third when the sex (and ethnicity, disability and other identifying features) was hidden from the selection panel during auditions.
There are also plenty of studies demonstrating that hiding your gender identity on your resume can help your chance of getting an interview or having a gender neutral sounding name. The opposite is also true for men, where including a Mr or a gendered name can help them get work.
Men are more likely to be promoted above women as demonstrated by the new Australian government, which despite having MANY excellent (if you’re a Liberal) female candidates only holds one female cabinet minister.
Even Rupert Murdoch has routinely given his sons more opportunities than his daughters despite Elisabeth being considered by the rest of the world as being a very astute and successful business woman.
e. it’s not that women earn less money, it’s just that they take more time off to have families etc TRUTH AND LIE
It’s true that women are more likely to take time off work to raise families and that this does influence their lifetime earning potential. They’re also more likely to go back to work only part time after having a family which also impacts on their likelihood of promotion. However this doesn’t tell the whole story and it doesn’t excuse any of the above facts about promotion and renumeration. Many women only take the basic maternity leave and continue to work full time, many women do and many more WOULD happily take on flexible working arrangements that allow them to work from home, work around their family’s needs and still remain very productive and important employees. Just waving wage disparity away with a nappy saying “women who want to get paid like men should work like men” eg: not take time off to have families is not just offensive and a cop out, it ignores the multitude of social and familial pressures that women face when it comes to family and “family values”.
It’s 2013 for fucks sake. Open your eyes to the world a start being a little bit more imaginative.