Guest post. David Leyonhjelm on the gender pay gap

Reports of a substantial gender pay gap from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency are intended to be alarming. It works; the more naïve media and commentators are suitably alarmed and insist something needs to be done. Wiser heads are not convinced.

The Agency’s approach is lazy and simplistic, reporting a crude figure that fails to compare like with like. As a result, meaningful considerations of a pay gap are lost with no prospect of a sensible discussion to identify whether there are genuine areas of concern and if action is required. For an Agency with a $6 million annual budget and 30 staff, this is not good enough.

The Agency reports a 15.3 per cent gender pay gap for full time employees, with male workers earning $1,638 and female workers $1,387 on average per week.

Unfortunately, the Agency doesn’t acknowledge that full time male workers work longer hours (44.7 hours a week) compared to full time female workers (41.6 hours). If this were accounted for, the gender pay gap per hour worked would fall to 8.9 per cent.

Further to this, a long time ago the Bureau of Statistics reported that, on average, female workers take more hours of paid personal leave (like sick leave, carers leave and parental leave) than male workers. This makes sense and is likely to still be the case. Accounting for this would further reduce the measure of hours worked by full time females compared to full time males, which in turn would further reduce the measure of the gender pay gap, at least in terms of pay per hour worked. But the Workplace Gender Equality Agency doesn’t bother to explore this.

The Agency also doesn’t address the fact that, on average, male workers are more experienced than female workers and, on some measures, more qualified. This is a result of gender differences in the workforce’s oldest cohorts, who entered the workforce in a different era, and will moderate over time. Nonetheless, the current differences in experience and qualifications ought to be taken into account when seeking to explain the pay gap.

Where women have the same experience and qualifications as men, but are still paid less, some of this may relate to the uneven representation of women and men in various industries. For instance, workers in the male-dominated manufacturing industry get paid more than workers in the female-dominated hospitality industry not because of sexism, but because an hour of manufacturing work generates more value to the economy, and more money for the employer than an hour of hospitality work. This is called market forces, and it helps ensure that what gets produced is what the economy values.

That begs the question of why some women favour industries where their work generates less value and lower pay. If it is because they get something out of working in those industries beyond money, it is hard to see it as a problem. Some jobs in typically male-dominated industries have inherent drawbacks, such as physical, outdoor and sometimes dangerous work, and less job security, such as in the cyclical mining industry.

What the Workplace Gender Equality Agency should focus on measuring and reporting is where women are paid less on average than men despite having the same experience and qualifications and working in the same occupations and industries. If we had a better understanding of this, we could then explore how much it is a result of discrimination and how much is due to women not applying for a promotion that is theirs for the taking.

Instead, the Agency blames the gender pay gap on discrimination and bias, not the decisions of women. This is clinging to victim status and is both unbalanced and unhelpful.

If women decide not to apply for a promotion because the upper echelon of an organisation is a repulsive boys club, there’s a problem that needs fixing. But if it’s due to decisions about family life and work life balance, what is the problem?

In fact, the tendency of men to always go for promotion may be where the bigger problem lies. Many studies have found that as we get older, particularly post-retirement, men are far more likely to experience loneliness and isolation as a result of having invested significantly less in children, family and friends.
We all make our choices, including whether to put our career first. If men make different choices from women, that says nothing about gender inequality.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

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34 Responses to Guest post. David Leyonhjelm on the gender pay gap

  1. Stephen Sasse

    Picking up the point that the Senator makes in paragraph five, the issue should be characterised as ‘total cost of employment’ rather than earnings…..

  2. Baldrick

    … and men tend to die earlier than women, more often than not due to the types of physical work they’ve been exposed to during their lifetime, but I don’t hear a gnashing of teeth over the Gender Death Gap.

  3. Phill

    According to their most recent annual report, WGEA has (at 30 Jun 17) 27 female and 3 male staff. Just sayin’….

  4. Damo Smith

    Autism is on a spectrum.
    Gender isn’t.

  5. a reader

    More of this and less of the SSM and open borders stuff would see more LDP elected

  6. Art Vandelay

    What the Workplace Gender Equality Agency should focus on measuring and reporting is where women are paid less on average than men despite having the same experience and qualifications and working in the same occupations and industries be abolished.

    Fixed that for you.

  7. Neville

    David asks (rhetorically, I suspect!) in the second-last para: ” But if it’s due to decisions about family life and work life balance, what is the problem?”
    Well, David, may I suggest that the problem is that this pseudo-“issue” is just another tactic in the attacks of the lefty-greeny bloc on the economy, society, common weal, and generally the culture of Australia. Cultural marxism rooolz, doncha know, and Gramsci must be smiling in his grave.

  8. Neville

    PS: inclined to agree with Stephen Sasse, above.

  9. Sydney Boy

    If women truely get paid 15% less for doing the same job, why aren’t all workplaces full of women? If, as an employer, I could hire a woman to do the same job as a man and pay her 15% less …

  10. Nathan

    The people that work at the WGEA have zero incentive to report that there is no gender wage gap, as their jobs would become redundant. AV has it right, it should be abolished.

  11. Iggie

    Can anyone tell me which union award discriminates on the basis of gender for those who do the exactly the same work?

  12. Mundi

    This agency is a good example of government waste.

    No way does it take 30 people and 6 million to survey buissness and write a report.

    In fact I could do the same job s than one week’s work. I would ask for database of buissness, use a mailing house to send them a key to an online form. Write a small webpage and script to report on it. Done and dusted.

    It’s amazing how they have taken such a simple job and created a mini empire out of it. Just imagine the back lash if government SHUT IT DOWN. They would claim to be the defenders of womens rights.

  13. cynical1

    19 people (9 men and 10 women) work at Coles.

    Tim Cahill is added to make a group of 20.

    Headlines scream: Males’ average wage much higher than females’.

    Standard “progressive” MSM trick.

    Eg: Always mentioned. Australians’ average carbon footprint.
    Never mentioned. Sheer size of Australia’s area of carbon offsetting greenery.

  14. Well written DL.
    But don’t expect The Project to analyse your writing; their anti-male feminazis on the panel are too busy evaluating dog droppings and toilet training.

    It’s interesting to see the close correlation between DL’s piece and the “In despair” post.

  15. classical_hero

    It’s yet another make work scheme for people who have no skills, outside of gender studies.

    But let’s look at parliament first and remove the pay gap there. I’m certain on average that men earn more.

  16. As I have often maintained, Leyonhjelm is the only person with a brain in the entire ACT!

  17. Tel

    That begs the question of why some women favour industries where their work generates less value and lower pay. If it is because they get something out of working in those industries beyond money, it is hard to see it as a problem.

    Well there’s risk isn’t there?

    Most of the male dominated industries are dangerous, if the Workplace Gender Equality Agency couldn’t be bothered noting that a lot more men get killed on the job than women then you know it’s because they aren’t really interested in understanding anything.

  18. notafan

    I could not care less about the so called gender pay gap.

    It is about as real as same sex marriage.

    This is what happens when you make a virtue of equality.

    Celebrating what is shameful and shaming what should be celebrated.

    A child care worker should get the same pay as an airline pilot because same degree of difficulty and responsibility!

    Next up feminists will demand that child care workers be allowed to fly planes because expecting women to get relevant qualifications and experience is genderist.

  19. anonandon

    And as Bill Burr says, in the unlikely event that there is a catastrophic accident, women and children must be saved but men must remain and perish.

  20. Felix Kruell

    I find this topic always useful when it comes up – people actually change their minds once presented with the facts (rare these days). As this article does very well. Choices explain most of the pay gap. As long as their freely made and well informed choices, we shouldn’t characterise them as a problem to be solved.

    One message we should heed is that not enough young women understand the consequences of their choices. Picking the easy subjects, the easy courses, the easy careers, will mean you get paid less. Maybe not in year 1, but certainly by year 10. Which is when you want to have the house and afford kids.

  21. notafan

    Freely made and well informed choices taking into consideration physical and other differences.

  22. thefrollickingmole

    For instance, workers in the male-dominated manufacturing industry get paid more than workers in the female-dominated hospitality industry not because of sexism, but because an hour of manufacturing work generates more value to the economy, and more money for the employer than an hour of hospitality work.

    As good an explanation as Ive read, short, sweet and ruthless.

    notafan

    Already being done.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/04/female-childcare-workers-paid-32-less-than-male-workers-new-data-shows

    “When it comes down to it, when they want to have their own children and settle down and afford a mortgage, they can’t do it on their wage,” Gibbons said. “Ironically, so many of them leave at the stage that they want to have children, because they can’t afford the childcare.”

    A wage case petitioning for a 30% pay rise, based on average wages paid in the metalwork industry, chosen because the male-dominated industry has similar tiered qualification requirements to early childhood education, has been before the Fair Work Commission since 2013.

  23. EvilElvis

    That begs the question of why some women favour industries where their work generates less value and lower pay.

    That’s pretty simple. A larger percentage of women compared to men can’t cut it in a 5 day, 8 hours a day job let alone one more demanding.

    When I roster my ‘girls’ (11 out of 13 employees) I have to consider the fact that 6 of them can’t hack more than 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. They are not physically or mentally capable of handling the demands of our low valued service industry.

  24. Des Deskperson

    “Can anyone tell me which union award discriminates on the basis of gender for those who do the exactly the same work?”

    Well, any award or enterprise agreements, union negotiated or not, has to be certified by the Fair Work Commission and jt would be unlawful for it to approve any agreement that involved gender-based discrimination.

    However, many middle management and almost all senior employees these days are engaged under private individual contracts that are not subject, for any practical purposes, to any outside scrutiny. Apart from the the glaring example a few years back of the ABC’s Juanita Phillips, I’m not aware of any evidence that these contracts involve gender discrimination between individuals in wages and conditions, but if the WGEA really want to do its job and, as they say, add value, then it ought to be focussing on these arrangements, if only to assure us that there is no problem.

    Since this is likely to involve tackling powerful individuals and organisations, many of them ‘progressive’, it is unlikely to happen. Just look how howABC reacted to the request for open information on the wages and conditions of its ‘stars’.

  25. L

    Did they mention the growing number of jobs where women are lawfully paid more then men (usually through higher Super)?

    And why do we still have different retirement ages for men and women?

    Did they mention that women typically retire earlier than men, even earlier than their earlier retirement age?

    Did they compare how many men die before ever reaching retirement to how many women die before ever reaching retirement?

    No? Why would that be I wonder.

  26. Des Deskperson

    ‘And why do we still have different retirement ages for men and women?’

    We don’t.

    There is no official ‘retiring age’ in Australia. Pension and superannuation arrangements have age-based entitlement thresholds – 65 for the old age pension – but these no longer differ on the basis of gender,

  27. duncanm

    If women truely get paid 15% less for doing the same job, why aren’t all workplaces full of women? If, as an employer, I could hire a woman to do the same job as a man and pay her 15% less …

    There’s no need to discuss all the other points.. it really does boil own to this.

    If women are cheaper, why are they not hired?

    The only argument is full-retard: all organisations are misogynists.

    Never go full retard.

  28. struth

    Can we get true equality and start bumping off women in the workforce to make them equal with deaths of males in the workplace?

    Until then, STFU.

    Show me one business, anywhere that pays a woman less than a man for the same position.

    If there were any pay gaps, men would be out of work quicker than you could say Marxist bullshit.

  29. struth

    Oh and D.L.
    Go and learn what Nazi stands for, you idiot.

    Or else explain to me why you think Hitler and his brown shirts were right wing as you suggested at the Milo [email protected]

  30. .

    Jesus christ struth:

    Actual Nazis are more socialist than anything else…”

  31. Spring is near

    WGEA = job for life.

    Whereever there is a data difference, whereever there is a lower skilled job, whereever some work less than others, wherever MSM be, WGEA will be there banging the drum and holding out the hat! Hoorah!

  32. nilk

    When I roster my ‘girls’ (11 out of 13 employees) I have to consider the fact that 6 of them can’t hack more than 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. They are not physically or mentally capable of handling the demands of our low valued service industry.

    That’s just gobsmacking. I turned 50 a few months ago, and I’m currently working longer hours than I ever have. 7am-6pm is my average day, and the occasional 12 or 13 hour day is not unexpected.

    It’s what the job demands. That your girls are finding 4 hours a day enough is bloody embarrassing. I’m going to burn my woman card when I get home and go all trans.

    Holy cow.

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