Gender-wage inequality sucks. Yep, I’ve used the highly intellectual word of “sucks”, merely because the concept of a gender wage gap in Australia, in 2016, is to me simply archaic! (See? I can use big words when I want to)
A new report released as recent as last week highlighted we have a 17.9% gender pay gap here in Oz. Today. in 2016. Where in some cases – namely top tiered management positions – men were being paid, on average, $100,000 more than their female counterparts annually.
Looking OS, it was only this time last year that Patricia Arquette seized her Oscar winning moment to deliver a ‘kick arse-hallelujah sister” speech to highlight the very same problem in Hollywood. A cause she continues to fight for.
And while both these examples involve some very chunky pay cheques – it’s not unique to top-tier managers or A-grade Hollywood stars.
Well it can’t be; because it happened to me.
I was in a job some years ago, when I found out that a colleague – a man, coincidentally – who had the exact same job as me, was on considerably more money than me.
Now of course my initial reaction was to get angry. How couldn’t I? Then I forced myself to relax & confronted management. They cordially made a wage increase offer, which I cordially accepted; knowing that while (cordially) higher, it wasn’t equal. It was all very cordial by that point.
And while initially outraged about the thousands of dollars I could have quite easily found a home for, that wasn’t the worst or most serious repercussion. No, it was the eventual felling of self-worthlessness and insecurity about my skill, my abilities & ultimately myself.
“Am I inferior? Am I bad at my job? Do I need to do more? Give more? Be more?”
Looking back, such questions were ludicrous. They were thoughts I should have NEVER had to ask myself, for the fact was I had solid proof I was good.
To put it into a delicious, carb-loaded analogy, let’s say we were bakers at the time. We made bread. And when our bread went to the market, my bread sold quicker. People preferred my bread. People trusted my bread to make the sandwiches for their kids school lunch-boxes. I don’t want to blow my horn but, HELL I had coeliacs even buying a couple of loaves a week.
And sure the numbers involved here, were no where near the millions that Arquette speaks of in Hollywood. Or the hundreds of thousands within the top tiers of Australian management. (To be honest I’ve had quite the knack for picking pretty poorly paying industries in my time!)
But money isn’t the issue here at all; it’s the principle. It’s the self esteem that’s ruined & the self-worth that is tarnished when someone says – even if indirectly – you don’t deserve to be equal for no real reason other than you were born with lady bits between your legs.
And that hurt. And it still hurts.
Maybe I should have quit; but I didn’t because, let’s face it, pay cheques of any size are pretty damn handy.
Maybe I should have fought a little harder; but I didn’t, because after all I didn’t want to come across as difficult or ungrateful woman in the workplace.
Sure, my experience is a small case, in an otherwise huge global problem. Regardless, it’s a problem – at every level – that needs a solution.
And fingers crossed we can find one, without each having to grow a penis to get it.
Oh, and one more thing … can we just shut down all “gaps” while we’re at it? Thigh gaps included! #SayNoToGaps