Wow! Great topic and one I'm happy to explore because it's such a complex issue. And in June 2017 I got to take part in the AIM Great Debate in Canberra on this very topic.
And while the issue is serious because of the very real impact it has on women and families more broadly, the format was fun which enabled us to go far and wide in creating compelling arguments.
My fellow debaters are listed to the right and thanks to Jane Caro for hosting with humour, a light touch and commentary to fill in the gaps between arguments.
Closing the gender salary gap won't close the gender gap
I was on team negative so we argued that closing the gender salary gap would not close the gender gap, because discrimination comes in many forms, and while salary is one significant area, it's not the only one.
I explored issues such as power and influence as other arenas where discrimination occur regularly which aren't always closed by money - as evidenced by some of my senior level clients who are frequently the highest paid person in the room, yet still fend off power plays, discriminatory comments and dismissal because of their gender, rather than being accepted for the contribution they are making to the value of the organisation. Sad but true. And to lighten the mood I got to talk about my four pet peevs - mansplaining, bropropriation, manterruptions and ...... manspreading. (More on that in a future post).
My fellow panelist Arabella Close, shared her experiences in educating high school students on bias and gender stereotypes and how she sees that gender stereotyping and fixed ideas start young and are hard to move. Her closing argument "the salary gap is just a symptom, not the cause" was an absolute winner, reminding us that one woman is killed each week in Australia as a result of domestic violence.
Virginia Hausegger AM rebutted and closed on our team's behalf with hard data about representation of women in parliament and leadership more broadly, along with compelling evidence that it's not just about the money so let's not imagine that if we get rid of the salary gap, the other issues will simply go away.
And team negative won!
Other arguments included:
Women in STEM as a minority
Ingrained attitudes towards women
Pink jobs for girls, blue jobs for boys
Feminised industries and lower pay in feminised industries
The cost of being female - yes our grocery basket is 7% more expensive at the supermarket
The tax on feminine hygiene products
Abortion laws in Australia
While a comedy style lunch debate on the gender salary gap probably didn't do justice to the complexity of the topic, it did allow for a really broad range of issues to be introduced.
Thanks to the team at AIM Australia for hosting the debate! Thanks to a highly engaged Canberra audience who made it all worthwhile. And thanks to our opposing team members who kept us competitive and ensured the arguments were rigorous and well thought out.
And let's be honest, winners will only be grinners when the gender gap (including the gender salary gap) is closed.
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