- Date published:
7:10 am, March 8th, 2017 - 73 comments
Categories: gender, human rights, paula bennett, sexism, wages - Tags: equality, feminism, gender pay gap
Yesterday Paula Bennett engaged in a bit of grandstanding: Call to action on closing the Gender Pay Gap. It’s a bit hollow after eight long years. It’s a bit hollow after the Nats abolished the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit. It’s a bit hollow after they blocked the Greens’ Pay Equity Bill. National in government have been no friend of women. Here’s some more historical context:
Over the longer term, separate figures from the quarterly employment survey show that the gender pay gap closed sharply after the Equal Pay Act of 1975, and again in the late 1980s and more slowly from 1997 to 2009.
The later two periods of gains coincided with Labour governments when unions were relatively strong, reflected most notably in a big 20 per cent pay rise for public sector nurses in 2005.
But the improvements stalled when unions were weakened first by the Employment Contracts Act of 1991 and again by changes such as the 90-day trial period under the current John Key-led Government which took office in 2008.
The latest round of attention to this topic has been triggered by a new report with some interesting findings:
Bias against women accounts for 80 per cent of gender pay gap – research
The gender pay gap very much exists in New Zealand, and the cause of it is mostly down to bias, perception and attitude, according to new research.It’s the first empirical evidence since 2003, showing that inequality in pay – which was weighted in favour of men – could not be explained by differences in education, occupation and industry, or part-time work. The pay gap had remained static at about 12 per cent for a decade, [debatable, see footnote] but those factors only accounted for 20 per cent of it. Researchers found 80 per cent of wage inequality was caused by differences in behaviour between men and women, as well as either conscious or unconscious bias, that negatively affected women’s opportunities for recruitment and wage advancement. …
It’s obvious that the pay gap is partly due to entrenched bias, but really interesting to see a figure put on it – 80% is huge [update: pointed out in comments that headline is misleading vs actual text].
Bennett is calling on employers to “conduct gender pay audits and to declare the results”. As if that is going to happen. If the Nats were serious about addressing the pay gap there is much more they could do. Instead of voluntary audits, how about some legislation? Eight long years – and counting.
Footnote: The report also claims that the pay gap essentially unchanged (around 12.7%) since 2003. Other figures seem to tell a different story: 2013 “Pay gap between men and women slowly widening”. 2014 “The pay gap between men and women in New Zealand continued to grow last year”. 2015 “Women’s pay drops further behind men’s”. 2016 “The pay gap between men and women is the worst it’s been in almost a decade”. (The 2016 piece by Amelia Wade at The Herald is really good, looking at topics like “How much less do women earn than men?”, “Why do women earn less?”, “What’s being done to close the gap?” and more.)
Another clear example of Bennett and her crew being all talk and no action is the on-gong legal dispute between the Govenment and health care workers. Despite clear rulings showing an obvious gender pay bias compared to similar work done in male-dominated industries, and despite years of repeated acceptances by Government representatives about doing ‘something’, the women in this sector are still waiting.
Today of all days (International Women’s Day), will we see the Government do the right thing, or simply the expedient thing?
This Tory gov’t does not believe in taking action on important issues, whether it be the gender wage gap, housing, youth unemployment, the meths problem, or open slather immigration….. Cheers!
Voluntary audits… like that’s going to change anything.
The outgoing deputy PM does not care about women, all she cares about is her own position of power and that has be blindingly obvious over the years she has been in the house.
I think it actually can help to sit down and ask yourself ‘why do I pay this person more than that person?’
and if the answer is “because he is a bloke” what then? Usually the excuses – need to study this, need to assess this, need to cost this and so on – all bogus – “need to sort this”, “need to fix this” never enters the head.
Setting goals is all part of doing nothing.
It can work if you approach it in a humble spirit
Since when do bigoted, self-entitled business people have a ‘humble spirit’?
Maybe one day you’ll grow up a bit and realise that the world is not as black and white as you think it is.
Not everyone who manages people is a prick.
Look up the meritocracy paradox – your thinks are (once again) utterly, completely wrong.
People go into business to make money, that’s the bottom line. So if they can get away with paying a little less, and throw in a gagging order within a contract to prevent employees discussing their pay rates with each other, well that’s great for the business owner that’s hell bent on profit over everything else. Voluntary audit, how many will do that, all it means to them is they will probably end up having to pay some of their underpaid women staff some more money. Well that will mess with their bottom line, and we are in business to make a profit.
Sure there are ethical employers and those with values that understand looking after good staff saves them heaps of money in the long run, and paying a ‘living wage’ solves all sorts of headaches. But they can be few and far between.
Antoine, sadly I don’t think many employers will sit down and ask themselves why they pay one person more than another. But there will be many employees that will be thinking about it, especially any in payroll, they know what really happens.
Would be interested to see how many ‘voluntary audits’ are done, and how they were done and what happened as a result. The types of employers who would do a voluntary audit probably already pay their staff fairly.
The real question is, why in 2017 are women still being undervalued in many places of employment, and how do we change this deeply embedded culture?
Maybe that train of thought could be voluntary as well.
Not all organisations with staff are for-profit!
And in for-profit organisations, the bottom line is not always pursued to the exclusion of all else.
> Antoine, sadly I don’t think many employers will sit down and ask themselves why they pay one person more than another.
Some will. How much to pay one’s staff, is a common subject to think about.
Also, it isn’t just employers in the sense of business owners; it’s any line manager.
Antoine, I didn’t say organisations, business was the word I used, because… the definition of a business is the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money. Money is the bottom line.
I do agree however with your sentiment that some will think about how much to pay ones staff.
But having run a company before I can honestly say fine tuning a company to generate greater profits while supporting R&D is a more common subject to occupy ones mind.
Once staff are employed especially blue collar, their pay rates were not a very common subject in ones thoughts, more like annually when contract reviews were done.
Then once we get into gender pay rates we could go on about say someone with a disability, or of a certain race etc etc. Maybe the real problem is the cost of living in NZ is way to high compared with wages.
Either way we are discovering more with every passing second…
METIRIA TUREI to the Minister for Women: When she said that she was “fully equipped to kinda leap in and tackle” the challenge of pay equity, why is she ruling out a law change to shrink the pay gap in the private sector?
They’ll be just as effective as the voluntary actions promised in 2002 by the farmers to clean up their act which has seen our waterways become ever more polluted but doesn’t cut into the farmers profits.
voluntary audits just shows the gnats have no teeth they can pass legislation fast when it suit them.
I’m a bit skeptical of the new pay gap study. Would like to see more detail on the methodology before believing it. Can’t help thinking theyve forgotten to control properly for some important factor…
It sounds about right to me, when you take into account that the 80% of the difference due to “conscious or unconscious bias,” less euphemistically known as “sexism,” includes a lot more than sexism on the part of employers. All the women who are earning less because their husband’s career came first, or raising the kids was considered their job, or they’d been raised not to show ambition, or etc, are earning less due to “conscious or unconscious bias,” but that’s nothing to do with their employers and not something the government could do a lot about.
It would be interesting to see if they could break it down to how much of it caused by “conscious or unconscious bias” on the part of employers, because that’s something a government can take on – for example, by requiring them to publish the averages at their own workplaces (something which Paula Bennett has said she won’t do, because… well, because her party represents the employers, mainly. It will take a Labour government to actually see some action on this).
I can’t help thinking that you don’t know how to think, and compensate by re-hashing right wing dogma instead.
The study is available in full on the Ministry’s website. I can’t help thinking that you lack the skills to read let alone understand it or its findings.
Why don’t you pretend to have read it and go with your lackwit prejudice instead?
I only heard about the study today and Ive been busy today! Give us a break
You managed to find time to rubbish its conclusions in your very own special bland weasel manner.
I can’t help thinking that your comments are cynical, predetermined and utterly dishonest.
Mwah! (Air kiss)
+1 air kiss
The problem starts at the negotiating stage of the job
Woman tend to be less confident about their abilities and don’t negotiate as hard as guys and end up settling for less than what they’re worth.
As a librarian for Auckland Council libraries (libraries consisting of an overwhelmingly female workforce), I couldn’t possibly comment.
But a couple of quotes from articles linked in Anthony’s post above:
From his earlier post:
And from NZH’s Amelia Wade ‘s Opinion piece:
One would hope a study purporting to show bias controlled for that. No discrimination would not mean equal average overall pay for this kind of reason.
One would hope a pundit would read the report before displaying their bias, but hey.
Which bias is that?
“Reading further, apparently the report puts “type of work” (jobs seen by society to be more suitable for women) into the 20% of the explanation for women on average earning less than men.” – Carolyn
Is that the same kinds of bias as the study then?
Thanks for providing an example of a pundit who makes claims about a study he hasn’t read.
I’m not sure what bias in the study you are referring to, Nic. Can you be more specific?
What the study says
I have read the study.
The authors have gone to great pains to use more than one method of estimating the extent of the pay gap, and the extent of the explained and unexplained factors.
They have compared the different approaches with similar research done internationally. In one approach, the unexplained factors are lower than 80%, and the explained higher than 20% – 35.58%.
Also, in more than one approach, it is shown the unexplained part of the pay gap gets bigger, the higher up the pay grades. There is a smaller unexplained pay gap for those on lower wages.
The clear results shown from using at least 2 statistical approaches:
Basically, age and/or experience is a significant factor, with women falling further behind men’s pay the older and/or more experienced they are.
Part vs fulltime work
Females do more part time work than males: about 3 times more.
The unexplained difference in pay, includes “unobservable” characteristics, and not just work place discrimination.
The study finds this tendency for gender differences in occupations.
My views on influence of socialisation
But this can also be a reflection of the way male socialisation encourages men to be competitive at work, and put more emphasis on achieving high status within occupations that have a relatively high status. While women are more socialised into doing work that cares for or serves others, and provides satisfactions from serving their community.
But here I think our society’s values are somewhat dysfunctional. More stress should be put on work that contributes to society and the community, than on competitively aiming for individual status, wealth and/or power.
That was specifically a reply to OAB, and my use of the word bias there to his accusation I was applying my biases to the study without reading it. He is correct, I did not need to read the study to assume they attempted to control for differences in occupations before they conclude any kind of bias.
In reference to your occupation of librarians if they looked at pay of librarians and discovered a pay gap between male and female librarians then one explanation might be some kind of bias. Others might be differences in longevity of position, or differences in qualification, or there may be many others. But this says nothing about a salary difference between librarians and (say) dentists. The bias I was applying was not falling into the error of assuming differences in pay by occupation are the same as differences in pay for the same occupation.
The bias I was applying was not falling into the error of assuming differences in pay by occupation are the same as differences in pay for the same occupation.
They are related and have to do with the same overall value system.
My experience of working mainly within female-dominated jobs, is that men tend to get a fast track to promotion within such occupations.
Very often people, including many women, heap praise on men for doing a female-dominated job, then defer to their authority in many (often gendered) ways: eg expecting,them to be better at dealing with technical or IT matters, and always giving them those sorts of tasks, while some women could do them just as well.
Whether or not they are related causes thats not what the study was of.
Yes it was. That’s if you mean different pay and responsibility grades within the same occupation eg teachers compared with senior teachers and head teachers.
These all contribute to the pay differentials.
Going back to this
“The bias I was applying was not falling into the error of assuming differences in pay by occupation are the same as differences in pay for the same occupation.” – Nic
and hope fully being a little more clear, but
“They are related and have to do with the same overall value system.” – Carolyn
was not a question of the study. If it was then the ‘overall value system’ would have been a variable of the study. Instead we have the variables, “Occupational Characteristics” and “Industry Classifications” which are some of the “explained” basis for the pay differences between males and females. Also not a question was if the “Occupational Characteristics” and/or “Industry Classifications” were “explained” by some other variables themselves, which is what you seem to be implying by that statement. That question is simply not asked or answered by the study.
On the other hand the variables “Occupational Characteristics” and “Industry Classifications” are (I would say) a reasonable attempt to control for “differences in pay by occupation” and so to consider “differences in pay for the same occupation”. On the other hand if you want to argue that the study is insufficient, it could be that more particular variables than those under “Occupational Characteristics” or “Industry Classifications” could reduce the level of “Unexplained” differences in the gender pay gap and increase the “Explained” differences in the gender pay gap. This would seem be what you have been saying is possible in your statements
“Very often people, including many women, heap praise on men for doing a female-dominated job, then defer to their authority in many (often gendered) ways: eg expecting,them to be better at dealing with technical or IT matters, and always giving them those sorts of tasks”
“you mean different pay and responsibility grades within the same occupation eg teachers compared with senior teachers and head teachers.”,
to the extent this is not already accounted for in “Occupational Characteristics” applied by the study already that is. However it is the “Unexplained” category in the study which is considered to account for the actual gender bias of the pay gap in most accounts (including the article referring to it, even by the editors somewhat miss-leading headline account), and not the “explained” category.
It’s a historical legacy. Jobs done by women tend to get lower pay because anything deemed “women’s work” is considered low value. This is a bias and does impact on the overall pay women get.
Jobs involving caring for and servicing others tend to be lower paid than other jobs, and there tends to be more women doing these jobs than men.
However, Bennett is taking more of an individualistic view and claiming it’s largely due to “conscious and unconscious bias”
Actually, the statement from Paula Bennett on the Beehive site says:
My bold. So the assumptions can include general attitudes towards the kind of work women do. And this was tested in court with the case of women care workers.
Reading further, apparently the report puts “type of work” (jobs seen by society to be more suitable for women) into the 20% of the explanation for women on average earning less than men.
But this from the report itself:
This is particularly important for those who make decisions about attracting, recruiting, retaining, and promoting staff.
The “meritocracy paradox” has already shown that this approach doesn’t work.
The market has had since 1972 to correct this problem. It failed. What works when the market fails?
It’s time to get tough on illegal employment practices.
Gotta find them first
Don’t worry, someone else will do it: no-one is relying on you.
“It’s a historical legacy. Jobs done by women tend to get lower pay because anything deemed “women’s work” is considered low value. This is a bias and does impact on the overall pay women get.
Jobs involving caring for and servicing others tend to be lower paid than other jobs, and there tends to be more women doing these jobs than men.”
So don’t do these jobs if your not happy with the pay. There are plenty of jobs for welders, builders, engineers out there, all of which pay better and offer a better work environment for someone who values money over caring and flexible working hours.
Most women I know who do these lower paid jobs, do so out of a commitment to serving their communities. Why does our current social system put such a low value on those kinds of jobs?
The other side of the coin is, that when women start moving in numbers into a previously male-dominated occupation, the wages drop.
“Most women I know who do these lower paid jobs, do so out of a commitment to serving their communities. ”
Exactly. They put a higher value on such things, rather than pay.
“Why does our current social system put such a low value on those kinds of jobs?”
Because women will do them for that pay.
“The other side of the coin is, that when women start moving in numbers into a previously male-dominated occupation, the wages drop.”
Because they change the values for that occupation, looking for more flexibility and shorter working hours.
Because they change the values for that occupation, looking for more flexibility and shorter working hours.
Evidence of this, please?
And you seem to be hell bent on blaming women for everything ie blaming those with least power.
Do you understand that, even though women are increasingly doing more work in traditionally male occupations, the gender pay gap has not decreased?
Women do more part time work than men. But, with so many people under-employed and unemployed, what’s the big deal about some men working long hours, and some women?
Actually some males talk bullshit to other males and are rewarded for it as this is the okay “norm’ for males . Any woman who does this is crucified.
That’s because that’s seen as a positive trait among men, shows confidence etc.
Unfortunately, that’s not the same for women.
Women who do this run the risk of been pigeonholed as been aggressive and hard work especially among Men 50+
Which can also be another reason why women don’t promote themselves quite as hard as guys at the negotiating stage.
Meanwhile, on Earth, workers don’t promote themselves, bosses do.
I don’t care what excuses you invent for the crims you cuddle. They had their chance, since 1972, to sort this out. Time to get tough on lawbreakers.
Woman tend to be less confident about their abilities and don’t negotiate as hard as guys…
Have you considered that this might be due to the effects of “conscious or unconscious bias” on the people involved?
Yeah, it’s the people with less power in the equation that are doing it. /sarc
The problem starts at the discrimination part of the job.
Bennett is so pathetic. Where has she been this last 3 months?
It is transparently obvious National are panicking and quickly whipped up a script for her to say something, anything meaningless but yet to appear relevant. Jacinda has taken way too much limelight.
But if you really cared, which you do not, how about the appalling and growing inequality on all levels Paula of which you know about this well, families holed up in motels, living hand to mouth, living in cars, working people Paula, not your hated bennys! Inequality for woman’s pay has nothing on this festering sore.
Do you have the guts to deal with that rather than this floss? The fuck you do, that’s way too hard and anyway it’s a natural spin off of Nationals moronic economic management!
“It’s obvious that the pay gap is partly due to entrenched bias, but really interesting to see a figure put on it – 80% is huge.”
Its also not what the article said.
“Researchers found 80 per cent of wage inequality was caused by differences in behaviour between men and women,”
Headline not withstanding and probably written by the editor.
The Min of Women says
(link at 4.4)
How “interesting” is that dishonest editor’s quote mining eh?
Well all I can suggest is that the editor knows his readers biases all too well.
Nic – True – careless reading on my part. Will minor edit.
Legislation will be brought in the recheck the gap in say 2035??
The ability and willingness to take direct action might go some way to correct the “unconscious and conscious bias, and differences in behaviours and choices between men and women”. Workers employment rights need to be given back to them.
Yep. And with that would come stronger unions.
… except that even in occupations with strong union presence and large female participation (e.g. teaching) the gender pay gap exists and is about the same as non-union-dominated industries.
I think these days, such unions don’t have a lot of clout. They operate within a restricted, anti-union regulated system.
The pay gap has become entrenched over a long time. Time during which unions have been able to exert varying degrees of political or economic influence – both in NZ as well as overseas, where the same pay gap problems appear to hold.
You’ve got your own reasons for wanting unions to be stronger (which is fine, whatever) but arguing a link between strong unions and narrowing the pay gap seems exceedingly dubious, at best.
But do they take direct action?
Teaching unions have done in the past. And Uni lecturers. Librarians take action on occasions.
And there are other things unions do eg launch, or participate in legal cases
Not if men are more inclined than women to take direct action… that would make it worse!
Are they? You will give some proof of this wont you? You know a study or some such researched paper maybe?
I said IF
So it’s not true then and you’re just making things up.
I will repeat. I said ‘IF men are more inclined than women’. That is a conditional; it may or may not be true; I took no position either way.
Weasel tries on fake wig, thinks it fools anyone.
I think a weasel in a wig would be rather cute.
– And yes, that turns out to be right: http://thedavyjones.deviantart.com/art/Izzy-Weasel-202934873
Funny how they took the time to do some research on the gender pay gap but they haven’t done any research on superannuation. What they have done is implement another ad hoc policy with very little thought gone into it nor do they care about the consequences such a policy will have on certain groups who die much earlier who the policy will effect the most. We are seeing more of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff from a party that has no new ideas just the same old rubbish. Now we see pull the benefit saying and acting like she cares about women. Really! how come they changed the law when our cleaners won the right to not have their wages reduced back to the minimum rate every time a new company brought the cleaning contract so they can never improve there situation due to this practice. Pull the benefit and her lot just went to court and changed the law. What does this say about her and what does this say about the people in government.
This grandstanding by Bennett that was typically covered by One News giving it the airtime to send the message to those woman watching that this government has has a miraculous conversion on the issue of the gender pay gap and are committed to all of a sudden to telling its bias business supporters that its a good idea and get on side because their is a general election to win and funnily enough they need womans support.
In reality the National Government is just the electable agent of its support base that do not believe in fairness , a fair days work for a fair days pay, good labour laws , sharing the profits with their workers who helped create that profit, integrity, tax payer funded social support for those in genuine need, and that somehow having a successful woman PM leading a Labour government is anti business and just cannot change their mindset that despite how good or bad it gets in NZ they will only vote National.
What ever this government does is fine as long as its not a cost to business and will cut costs for business.
And that’s the problem for National and the country because its held captive to vested interests weather that be corporate or rural operators who donate big money to keep that influence.
That’s why we dont get progressive policies and change under National and Bennett is making a fool out of her self pretending she really supports equal pay when the reality is the party that she represents dont have a history of doing anything for woman unless its electorally convenient and she knows that.
Intelligent woman know that this announcement from this government wont be worth bugger all and that attitudes have to change out there in the work place.
Agree. And Bennett had the gall to smear other feminists while claiming to be a feminist standing up for women. i.e. she said she didn’t want to be compared to some “man-hating” feminists. That;s a stereotype of feminists she’s supporting. But also, she’s basically saying she doesn’t want to do anything at all challenging to the status quo.
Also, the report has some things to say about women on the lowest incomes, struggling, especially Māori and Pacific women (and men) and sole mothers. But Bennett did not highlight this, because they are all suffering under the impact of her and her government’s policies.
At the risk of drawing some adverse comments on my head, I think it’s about time males accepted the natural superiority of the female sex. There’s only two things men can do better than women and those are: grow beards and lift heavy weights!
If all males accepted that women are superior, they might, grudgingly, accord them equality – in the work place and in society!
Testosterone-driven male egos have got us into the shit we’re in – time to give women a chance to get us out!
Grow beards, lift heavy weights and win Nobel Prizes