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Why do women get paid less than men?

by joya. (follow)
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There are many myths and theories around why women get paid less than men. Some say because women cannot spend as much time at work as men and some say this is purely discrimination. What are your thoughts?

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It may not necessarily be because women don't have the knowledge, talent and skills to perform in roles of significant responsibility. There are many (and varied reasons) as to why many women usually earn less money than men do:

Some women are afraid to speak up, and ask for what they really want in the workplace.
Many women are content (either by choice, or through unfortunate limiting beliefs) to accept more entry level, and/or lower paying positions in the workforce than men are.
Women do spend more time out of the workforce, especially when it comes to having kids.
To be honest, I think it's discrimination. Not concious or malicious, but still discrimination.

The fact is that in Australia women doing the exact same job as a man (same position description), for the exact same hours, and with the same amount of experience (which removes mitigating factors like time of for kids), are paid 17% less.

Frankly, that's outrageous.
Where that's the case, I completely agree - it's discrimination (intentional or not) and there are still plenty of workplaces where it is practiced - mostly privately owned companies or organisations where "the old boys club" thinking prevails. I do think that the latter are a dying breed, and that the situation is improving where that is the cause. The former case is a little more difficult to address, but the reality is they risk missing out on some pretty significant talent as a result, and therefore also risk losing competitive advantage in their respective markets.

However I do think that sometimes people over generalise the issue and suggest that all women in all fields face more difficulty than men in getting jobs or rising through the ranks, and are also remuneratively discriminated against. I believe the reality Australia today is a little different. That is, while there are still (clearly but albeit decreasing) examples of genuine discrimination against women, this is now counter-balanced by increased opportunities for women. For example, there are special scholarships for women in professions where they are in the minority (eg. engineering, sciences etc) and awards for women only (eg. Telstra Business Woman of the year etc), yet the same cannot be said for men who want to be teachers or nurses (or other roles traditionally stereotyped for women) and I'm not aware of any publicly open awards for which men can be nominated but women can't. Likewise I'm not aware of any concerted efforts to encourage women to be waste truck drivers, brickies, combat infantry, or construction workers (that's not to say women don't already do some comparably "undesirable" tasks in other roles, like caring etc).

There are also the issues of neurological/biological differences and values, which may (or may not - I don't know) influence the data that you're referring to. For example, Men are typically "wired" differently (on average) and are more likely to be aggressive, competitive, and assertive. There are arguments about how much of this is due to "nature vs nurture" in their development, but regardless, the fact is that it influences both their drive and therefore their "success" on many dimensions.

This overlaps with values, as values influence our motivation and drive. For example, do most women think it's worth the extra dollars to be away from one's family most of the time working in dust, discomfort, danger and filth in the mines, or is the ability to devote more time to one's family more important? That's not to say people in the resources sector don't care about their families, but how many exceedingly (financially) rich people are there out there (excluding inherited wealth or employment) who can also boast that that they spend (and have always spent) the vast majority of each day with their partners and children? Some occupations allow us more opportunity for this than others, and the "same" jobs in different sectors (eg. accommodation cleaner in the mining sector vs cleaner at the local school) will also be paid differently because of other factors (i.e. being away from your family, as an example).

Does discrimination against women (or others) still happen? Yes, and unfortunately I think it always will to some extent, but I think we need to be careful that affirmative action doesn't become reverse discrimination - "an eye for an eye" style retaliation/retribution never really served to build harmonious relationships....
by kimp
It's complicated. Partly it's because women are disproportionately represented in "caring" jobs like nursing and teaching and the service industry, which despite their actual importance to society are looked down on and pay comparitively low wages. I've heard it called the "pink ghetto." There seems to be some positive stuff being done to fix this now. At least it's a start.

Then there's the difficulty of working the same hours as men when a lot of women have extra demands on their time, especially if they have kids, like doing school pickups and drop-offs (it limits what you can do if you have to be out by three). When we have kids women are still usually the ones who are expected to take time out of their careers for them, and then have to get back into the swing of things after months or years out of the paid workforce.
One hundred years ago in this country, women had only had the vote for just over a decade. Fifty years ago, women were not allowed to stay in their jobs once they married.

When you think about it, there has been so much that has changed in order for women to have free standing in the marketplace. Those attitudes die hard; they tend to live subconsciously for some time in the culture so that people don't even realise that they ARE discriminating.

How much time women spend at work compared to men should have nothing to do with whether they receive proportional pay. I'm glad that things are loosening in this area in the workplace. Working life should suit us, not the other way around :)
I don't believe they do get paid less for doing the same job.
Once upon a time that was true but to do exactly the same thing as a man, I believe women get the same money.

Whether or not they will be employed in the same job, is another matter.
by Finy
I think companies are slowly closing this gap. In some cases, women get paid more than men. With women spending more time out of the workforce also adds a disadvantage, and by the time they want to re-enter they don't have the skills, or are too old.
There is no one answer, but a combination of ALL reasons 'why'.

e.g. Because they spend less time in the workforce...because they (are) women.
It has been there for decades
Maybe one day it will change....but for now do not hold your breath.
You will find that it has mostly in my opinion to do with the fact, women are
able to leave (when starting a family) and because she may wish to return.................she may not!
It costs money to retrain, and if another woman is picked the same thing could happen.

In the big picture, any change to the workforce always has a impact, no matter how small.
Sometimes it's discrimination. Other times there are valid reasons to do with choices. I don't think discrimination will ever be completely eliminated, because in many cases it comes down to personal values and opinions. Comparing apples and pears in terms of "real" value is impossible - some will say one tastes better than the other. Others say it's a supply vs demand issue that determines market value. Others say one costs more than the other to produce. Which of these is a more valid explanation than the others? That's a rhetorical question, of course...
by kimp
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