Underpaid Down Under
GENDER EQUALITY: Research released in time for International Women’s Day shows that female managers in Australia are being paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Women are also twice as likely to be told they need to display more confidence — while being criticized for being too assertive.
According to a report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, female managers earn an average 26.5 per cent less than men in equivalent positions. This translates to a gap of A$ 93,000 (about €67,000) a year. The report says that about A$ 40,000 (€29,000) of this amount is in the form of bonuses and other extra payments that men receive.
The report says that the inequality is particularly noticeable in traditionally female industries such as healthcare and social assistance, as well as in the retail sector and in teaching. In these fields men, rather than women, are often found at the top levels.
“Not only do female-dominated organizations tend to be lower paid, but this analysis shows that, in workplaces with heavily female-dominated management teams, there are large gender pay gaps in favour of men,” says Professor Rebecca Cassells, who wrote the Bankwest Curtin report. “It seems that where the men are few, they are more highly valued,” Cassells told The Guardian.
"Where the men are few, they are more highly valued." Rebecca Cassells
Another report, by Chief Executive Women and Bain & Company, says that women and men receive different feedback on their work. “We found that women are twice as likely as men to receive feedback indicating they need to show ‘more confidence’ to be ready for promotion,” the authors say in Advancing Women in Australia: Eliminating Bias in Feedback and Promotions. “Women in this situation also face a double bind in which they are often criticized for coming across as too assertive, as this goes against ingrained feminine stereotypical behaviours.”
The Diversity Council Australia has examined the percentage of “culturally diverse” (i.e. non-white) women in leadership positions at publicly listed companies. Lisa Annese, CEO of the Diversity Council, says that 1.9 per cent of senior executives, 2.5 per cent of directors and 1 per cent of CEOs on the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) are culturally diverse women. This percentage has remained unchanged for the past several years.
“It would appear that culturally diverse women are experiencing a ‘double jeopardy’ in ASX leadership — where their gender and culture combine to make it more difficult than non-culturally diverse women, or even culturally diverse men, to access leadership roles,” Annese says. “We are undoubtedly not making the most of the talent that we know is out there in the community. We really need to look hard at what biases, either conscious or unconscious, are preventing these women from progressing to the top.”