The fact that the phrase ‘gender wage gap’ is still relevant in 2021 baffles me.
It baffles every woman who is forced to work equal hours using equal skills with equal output, yet still watch her bank account grow at an incrementally slower pace than that of her male colleague.
To be honest, it baffles a lot of men too.
Many males I’ve spoken to on the subject are outraged to hear of it. But they’re also somewhat disbelieving. And I think part of the reason for their double take is this:
A gender wage gap is – to put it bluntly – very bizarre.
Workers, both male and female, expect to be paid according to skills and output.
Not on whether or not they wear a bra.
Some like to say the gender wage gap doesn't exist anymore.
“nah, this is the age of enlightenment”
“yeah it used to be a thing, but no one faces such bias anymore”
“such archaic principles are surely a thing of the past”
I wish they were, Craig. I wish they were. (We’ll get to Craig soon enough…)
The truth is this:
Not only does the gender wage gap still exist – it’s actually growing.
Say what now?
How is this possible?
Why is it somehow allowed?
What does it meeeeeeaaaaannnn????
"It means that, compared to Pākehā men, Pasifika women effectively started working for free on September 22, wāhine Māori on October 3, Asian women on October 23, and Pākehā women on November 15.” (Newshub)
Which means that, by the time this article is published, I’ll have started on my free labour punch card. And I’ll be carrying it on all the way to the end of the year.
Ahhh 2021 - already so kind to my financial situation. *cough cough*
I’m not the first, and certainly not the most public, female to find myself working for less than I should.
In 2020, TVNZ famously came under fire when it was revealed by Herald on Sunday that:
"Male presenters at Television New Zealand earn an average $40,000 more a year than their female counterparts - a gender pay gap the state-owned broadcaster spent two years trying to keep secret."
$40,000?! That’s what a minimum wage worker will make for an entire year of employment. And it’s what Hillary Barry lost on the annual.
For no reason other than the happenstance of being a woman.
Of course, she handled it all with a grace and professionalism that her employers didn’t deserve, but she also agreed that it would be nice to be treated like a human being working a human job.
You and me both, Hillary.
Segway: “TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick refused to say if male and female newsreaders who presented the same bulletins were paid equally,” said the Herald.
It’s bad enough that Kenrick tried to wave away what should have been open and honest dealings, but worse than his dismissal is the pontification of Council of Trade Union director, Craig Renney.
Renney reported that the gender wage gap is widening. Then, in light of the growing gap, he had a message for women:
"Women shouldn't get [angry] - they should get organised."
That's a nice cushy opinion you have on the other side of equal pay, Craig.
Were you looking the other way when women literally marched on parliament for the right to vote? When they organised 31,872 signatures which were collected during a seven-year campaign? Just to, ya know, be recognised as a valid voice in politics?
I wonder if Craig has ever worked the exact same job as a female co-worker and been paid less for the pleasure of being more qualified, more hard-working, and more of the opposite gender?
The first time a boss offered me a wage which matched my work, I went home and cried.
It was shocking to be seen as an equally valuable employee, with fair pay based solely on output and nothing else.
In his blanket blunder, Craig conveniently overlooks the fact that there is a literal Minister for Women, Jan Tinetti, who is even now working on a fix. Because, as she so rightly says, ‘no pay gap is acceptable’.
Being an editor, I have fixed Renney’s statement. It now reads:
“Women are justifiably [angry] and men should get organised to stand with them.”
‘But what can I do?’ is a common and legitimate question.
Quite honestly, just stepping into the conversation is a fantastic start.
Ask the uncomfortable questions.
Hold management to account.
Make open wage discussions a norm.
Listen to – really listen to – your female, international colleagues.
And don’t pretend that this is an issue of the 1900s.
It’s here, it’s now, and it’s likely affecting a lot of people you know.
And yes, we’re angry about it.
Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport and an international heart. She spent years training student choirs and co-running a puppeteering business, before working for a humanitarian organisation in New Zealand (7 years) and Papua New Guinea (3 years). Currently a nomad living between various countries and towns, Emma's deep joy is in writing, music, cooking up an Italian storm, and taking time to listen to people’s stories.
Read Emma's creative expressions at http://www.girlkaleidoscope.wordpress.com or https://pngponderings.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/finding-the-beauty/
Emma’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-mcgeorge.html