What is Australian Pay Gap Day?
On September 8th this year will be Australian’s next Pay Gap Day, but many are unclear on what this actually is or what it means.
The Australia Pay Gap Day is held on a different day annually, calculated by the number of days from the end of the last financial year (starting on July 1st) that it would take women to earn as much as men. The eventual goal of Pay Gap Day is that an Equal Pay Day will one day be celebrated on June 30, when pay equality for all genders is finally accomplished.
The gender pay gap, put simply, is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full time earnings. The gap is conveyed as a percentage, weighted against what men earn in comparison to women. Considered and recorded annually by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Australian national gender pay gap is sourced from labour force data with help from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Positioned as a day to create awareness of an ongoing issue of the gender pay gap, the Australia Pay Gap Day highlights the monetary and societal value of the gender pay gap. The aim of the day is to challenge the structures and attitudes that supply the continuation of the gender pay gap. Unsurprisingly, the statistics open up the dialogue around how women and men are told they “should” engage in the workforce, and the price of “just being a woman”. The colour theme of the day is red, and advocates for change are encouraged to dress in red on the day to support the campaign. Rallies and stalls are also planned to be held in various cities across the country to show solidarity.
The monetary value women earn currently resides at $277.70 per week less than that of their male counterparts. While the current gap sits at an alarming 17.3% in 2016 for a full time wage earner, the societal ingrained reasons as to why a gender pay gap exists are the most infuriating. One of the major reasons that attribute to the gender pay gap is that “private sphere” work is not recognised as “real work” or is severely undervalued. The private sphere covers work such as domestic tasks, and child rearing – which commonly and traditionally fall to women. These jobs are not paid, as they are not seen as “careers”, or belonging to the “public sphere” – denoted as careers that exists outside the realm of the home or domestic life.
Due to child rearing and domestic tasks expected to be completed by women, they are more often in part time jobs that aren’t paid as well. Despite slowly moving gender equality progression in Australia, there is still underlying discrimination of women that predominates the workface, namely that there is a divide of what is “women’s work” and what is “men’s work”. In addition to this, the very nature of being a woman interrupts work life, such as pregnancy and maternity leave. These interruptions mean that women can be overlooked as potential candidates for high level positions, and therefore higher paid positions in many sectors.
Based on traditional stereotypes and gender roles, men are “expected” to the breadwinner. The emerging generation is very aware that this is the case, for many reasons, some of which include the changing nature of relationships, family structures and what is “societally acceptable” for different genders. The pay gap needs to be closed, with equal pay being given for equal work. Not only should men and women be paid the same, but the lack of gender diversity in higher paid roles and male-dominated occupations need to be addressed. Employers need to give equal opportunity for all genders to break into positions, and to succeed in them to the full potential – regardless of gender.
The Australian Pay Gap Day represents the strength of women in understanding and communicating their worth, and that they won’t stand down to anything less than being equal. Creating awareness isn’t enough, the Australian Pay Gap Day needs to be about action.
For more information about Australia Pay Gap Day head to the Equal Pay Day Alliance website.