gender parity

Will fixing the gender salary gap close the gender gap?

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.

AIM Great Debate Canberra 23 June 2017 - Virginia Haussegger AM, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Alex Sloan, Dr Saraid Billiard, Arabella Close and moi!

AIM Great Debate Canberra 23 June 2017 - Virginia Haussegger AM, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Alex Sloan, Dr Saraid Billiard, Arabella Close and moi!

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. 

Yes, I taught the audience how to adopt a manspreading pose - to take up more space and appear more powerful

Yes, I taught the audience how to adopt a manspreading pose - to take up more space and appear more powerful

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.

I am a feminist because it bothers me that a woman gets killed by her male partner every single week, and somehow that doesn’t qualify as a tools-down national crisis even though if a man got killed by a shark every week we’d probably arrange to have the ocean drained.
— Annabel Crabb

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.

AIM Great Debate Canberra w Amanda Blesing.JPG


 

Liked this article? Here are a few more from the archives

 

 

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Key learnings from the Women World Changer event in Sydney 12 Oct 2016

I'm a self confessed conference junkie. I've attended hundreds of them, and run more than most people have had hot dinners.   I enjoy the networking, I enjoy the opportunity to down tools and reflect on best practice, brash new ideas and challenging concepts. I also appreciate being in a room with like minded individuals and reflecting that;

"Gee, what I'm doing on the money.  Keep on going. This stuff makes a difference."

Last week I attended the Women World Changers one day event in Sydney.

The speaker lineup was a who's who in gender and broader diversity discussions from Australia and beyond including the following: Wendy McCarthy AO, Holly Ransom, Avril Henry, Ming Long, Mai Chen, Pat Milligan, Dr Simon Longstaff AO FCPA, Ainslie van Onselen, Giam Swiegers, Libby Lyons, Jenny Leong, Christine Bartlett, Veena Sahajwalla, Amy Mullins, John Lydon, Hala Gorani, Jennifer Dalitz, Melissa Browne, Kim-Louise Liddell, Gen George, Karen Beattie.

And "girl" did I have a great day!  It felt pretty fabulous to be in a room full of men and women committed to gender equity - and the benefits for business and society more broadly.  Thanks to both Carla Wall and Deborah Harrigan who joined me at the event. It was great to share and compare highlights afterwards.

Significant moments for me?

Wendy McCarthy AO as the opening keynote drawing attention to:

  • "the gap between well intentioned programs and programs that deliver real outcomes"
  • "the face of poverty in the future is an older woman with no super"

Patricia Milligan - on the data

  • "Companies who measure the progress and publish the results get better results"
  • "One of the biggest issues cited by women for leaving the workforce is health and well being issues"

Ming Long on encouraging men into the conversation

  • "Slavery didn’t end because black people thought it was a good idea. It disappeared because white people thought it was a good idea. Let’s get men into the discussion about gender equity"
  • "For the men in the room understand gender equity in the workplace is a smart business move, not just a nice to have because you have daughters"
  • "Some of the male champions don’t quite get it, but they’re on the journey and most importantly in positions of power to do something about gender equality"

Mae Chen on Super Diversity

  • "Cultural capability (CQ) is the new currency of success for business and individuals"
  • "I came to this conference because the title is Women World Changers - we need to change the world for humans, not just women"

Holly Ransom on the future of work

  • "The nature of work is changing and becoming portfolio in nature with consulting, freelancing and flexibility options seen as more and more attractive"
  • "6 degrees of separation is out the window - with impact of a social media it's estimated to be more like 3.8 degrees"

Avril Henry with a rousing close on how women can make a bigger difference for themselves

  • "No-one is more interested in your career than you. Put up your hand and manage it!"
  • "Winning women don't play nice, they play fair"

Please enjoy (and share) the Twitter highlights below!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

If you enjoyed this please spread the word! Let's inspire women everywhere to keep their eye on the prize

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy
  • I mentor busy professional women to ensure they remain smart, strategic and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months