The website news.com.au is owned by News Corp Australia, part of the so-called Murdoch Press. Feminists often claim the Murdoch Press is anti-feminist or even anti-woman. Articles such as the one discussed here paint a different picture.
On the 13th of July 2022 news.com.au published an article with the title Australia’s gender pay gap nears $1b per week, with discrimination the main driver.
Under the title the article stated:
A new report has found the key driver of Australia’s massive gender pay gap is blatant discrimination, quashing the argument of career choice and children.
Well that’s a bold claim. Let’s see how it stands up to some scrutiny.
Notably nowhere in the article is there a link to the report they are talking about. It seems that this is the one they mean. This is the latest edition of the She’s Price(d)less series of reports. See what they did there?
These reports are prepared by well known multinational corporation KPMG on behalf of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA). Notably the WGEA is a statutory agency of the Federal Government of Australia. If you live in Australia then this is your tax dollars at work.
Women are being ripped off and short-changed at work and the biggest driver of the $1 billion-a-week gender pay gap is good old-fashioned discrimination.
OK so they’ve reiterated the title. Now I know this is what the author, Samantha Maiden, wants to say rather than it being some over-zealous subeditor choosing a click-bait title.
That’s the conclusion that a landmark report has arrived at after breaking down for the first time the reasons why women are being paid an average of $2.55 less an hour than men.
This is actually the fourth edition of the report. They’ve all pretty much said the same thing. The idea is that KPMG prepares a new report every few years, largely repeating the last report, and then sends the WGEA & the DCA a big bill. Good work if you can get it.
For years, the reasons for the pay gap in Australia have been speculated about with anecdotal claims that women taking time out of the workforce to have kids or a preference for working part-time is the reason men earn more.
She’s confusing anecdote with data. Even the report she’s talking about attributes the majority of the difference to factors like these.
But the new report has found a big chunk of the pay difference has no legitimate reason.
Actually the report has found that a big chunk of the pay difference cannot be explained, which isn’t even remotely the same thing.
That’s why researchers say there’s no other explanation other than discrimination.
Given that this sentence is predicated on the last sentence and that the last sentence is wrong, this one is on pretty shaky ground.
In 2020, women were paid an average of $36.89 an hour, compared to $39.44 for men – a gap that increased during the pandemic.
Stunningly, different people doing different jobs are paid different amounts.
And while it’s true that taking time off work to have children is a contributing factor, it’s not the only driver of the pay gap.
Actually that isn’t a significant factor anymore. The fertility rate in Australia is now 1.58 births per woman well below replacement levels at 2.1. Even women leaving the workforce to raise children full-time should only be gone for a few years.
A breakdown of the $2.55 hourly pay gap estimates that 51 cents of the hourly pay gap could be explained by women tending to take more time away from paid work to raise children.
There you go.
Another 27 cents up is as a result of more women working part-time and another 50 cents was attributed to different types of work favoured by women.
You’re getting there. Remember how we keep talking about women’s choices?
In other words, women working in lower-paying jobs such as nursing or teachers rather than the mining industry.
That’s right. Anyone paying attention will notice that research has consistently pointed out that women tend to maintain a better work-life balance than men do. This will necessarily lead to women taking lower-paying jobs. As rational actors women should have taken the highest paying jobs that otherwise satisfy their requirements.
According to the report, 91 cents of the hourly pay gap – or 36 per cent – cannot be explained using measurable data. As a result, the report’s authors to put a big chunk of the pay gap down to gender discrimination. (sic)
Well there you have it. Even the Mainstream Media is now admitting that WGEA, KPMG and the DCA are simply defining some of the unexplained component of the earnings gap as discrimination. I picked this up in the previous report in 2019 and wrote an article about it. Last time around the media didn’t want to know. This time they’re openly admitting it.
The new research released today by KPMG, Diversity Council Australia (DCA), and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has found that the national pay gap is estimated at $966m per week or $51.8b per year.
“Australian women are among the most educated in the world. Yet despite many years of higher educational attainment than men, and women working more than ever, the gap between women’s and men’s earnings hasn’t significantly budged,’’ said Lisa Annese CEO Diversity Council Australia (sic)
It’s important to avoid confusing education with years of formal schooling. This discounts the value of informal education and also erroneously implies that all formal education is of equal value. It isn’t. An engineering degree is worth more, to the individual and society, than a gender studies degree.
“This latest report shows that discrimination against women remains the single biggest driver of the gender pay gap, followed by the combined impact of family, unpaid care and time out of the workforce. Women’s overrepresentation in certain industries and occupations also continues to be a significant driver of the pay gap and for the first time in this series, this report includes analyses of the gender pay gap by industry and income quintiles.”
[Apparently a further quote from Lisa Annese.]
The report does not show that discrimination against women remains the single biggest driver of the gender pay gap. The report states that it assumes this. That’s right, the report uses the word assumes. They claim this comes from decomposition analysis of an older data set, but if that was the case then surely they would have derived or inferred the proportion of gender discrimination. They don’t use either of these words – they make it clear that they simply made an assumption. This can be found in a footnote on p12 of the PDF. All readers are encouraged to check this for themselves.
Other key pay gap drivers are caring for family and workforce participation (33 per cent) and the type of job and industry sector of employment (24 per cent).
One of the biggest things companies can do to close the gender pay gap is offer greater transparency on the pay gap within organisations.
That means undertaking gender pay gap audits and analysis and publishing the findings.
“Actions employers can take today include undertaking gender pay gap audits and actioning findings, increasing the share of women in leadership positions, and enhancing availability and uptake of parental leave and flexible work by men and women,’’ said Mary Wooldridge the Mary Wooldridge, Director Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA),…
We should definitely have more gender pay gap audits. These audits have often resulted in men’s incomes going up alongside women’s.
Several years ago I wrote an open letter to the WGEA. Not long after, they responded. In their response the WGEA pointed out that when Energy Australia conducted such an audit 350 women, and 80 men received pay adjustments.
When the British Broadcasting Corporation conducted an audit more men than women received a pay rise.
As women progress in their careers, the shock research finds the pay gaps actually gets worse.
It reveals that women at the start of their career experience a pay gap of 6 per cent but as they progress through their careers to top management levels, the pay gap increases to a high of 18 per cent among the top 20 per cent of salaried workers.
And so this article ends rather abruptly. Poorly written and edited, it is full of factual errors. Even by the standards of modern journalism I’m disappointed that an article this bad would make it on to news.com.au. The arguments made in this article are so weak it would have been better not to raise them at all.
In case news.com.au ever decide to fix or alter this article, an archived copy can be found here.