The data makes it patently obvious that the gender “pay gap” is no myth. It’s not “so-called”. It’s not a grand conspiracy. It’s a stubborn fact.
The reasons for the pay gap are multi-faceted. It is not as simple as women being paid a perfectly uniformed discounted rate to their male peers. Nor is it explained by women working fewer hours.
It is the cumulative impact of bias, women undertaking more unpaid work and thus being less able to undertake more paid work, being over represented in the lowest-paid fields and underrepresented in the highest-paying sectors.
The “choices” women make play a role but the context in which their choices are made cannot be ignored.
A few facts
In the 2014-15 financial year:
- The median income for all taxpayers is $54,543, while the median for all women was just $47,125 and $61,711 for men.
- Women comprise 45% of all people earning a taxable income.
- The current average total earnings for men working full-time is $89,221, for women full-time workers it is $72,212.
- Women represent 25% of the richest 10% of earners, and 57% of the poorest 10% of earners.
Jericho took to Twitter earlier today to illustrate this.
A few questions
Do female athletes, barristers and anaesthetists make such different choices to men that their earnings are substantially different? Are they vastly less valuable?
Or, are there structural factors at play?
Is it harder for women barristers and anaesthetists to secure briefings and work? Do they charge less? All of the above?
How can just 19.7% of all female barristers earn more than $80,000 a year, while 56% of male barristers do?
A version of the same question can be asked of many sectors.
Even in a field like secondary teaching, which women dominate, men outnumber women in the highest income brackets.
The reasons why this happens matter less than the result. Women in Australia are earning substantially less than men. The cost of this is compounded over the course of their working lives and it explains why the path to poverty is so crowded with women.