"All Those Gender Equality Initiatives Feel Like Gaslighting"



Many of us are understandably furious about the results of this week’s gender pay gap data – but what can we actually do about it asks PRIMER co-founder Felicity Robinson.

As women all over Australia consider the gender pay gap at their employer, that question of whether to rock the boat – with its potential for career upset – looms large. Releasing gender pay data was never meant to place the burden of change on employees, says Mary Wooldridge, CEO of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which was responsible for compiling the information, but it inevitably requires employee involvement.

"There are policies in place, such as equal parental leave and a whistleblowing team, but it seems that these initiatives help the employer rather than the employee. They signal all the right things, but I’m still not seeing any part-time women in senior management... All these gender equality initiatives feel like gaslighting.”

- Sarah*, employee of one of Australia's four Australian banks

While there are legal protections for women who do choose to challenge their employer’s record on gender, few of us are perhaps willing to be branded a trouble-maker in an uncertain economic environment. It’s illegal to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job, but “insidious and discrete forms of sex-based discrimination can be more complex and difficult to address,” says Penelope Parker, Senior Associate with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

The WGEA hasn’t just started to collect this data: since the introduction of the Gender Equality Act in 2012, every employer with over 100 staff has been required to submit an annual breakdown of its gender composition and pay. WGEA then updated these employers on how their progress towards gender equity compared with similar companies.

“There’s always been a small number of naysayers in gender equality, but it’s clear there’s also a lot of support. The gender pay gap is a proxy for inequality between women and men at work. Putting gender pay gaps of individual employers on the record is a catalyst for informed conversation and action that will accelerate change.”

– Mary Wooldridge, CEO of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)

Meet The Women Making Thousands From Their Wardrobes



Read more about understanding the gender pay gap data at PRIMER.


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