Part 2: Let me count the ways, it sucks to be XX and not XY

This piece was written for International Women’s Day 2024.

Words by Josephine Renee (she/her) 23 QLD

My dad sent me an ABC video, Companies with the biggest gender pay gaps revealed.

For the first time in Australian history, the Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equity Agency published the gender and wages of businesses with more than 100 employees on February 27, 2024. Showing even big businesses that cater almost exclusively to women, City Chic, Valleygirl, Forever New, Seafolly, and Lorna Jane, aren’t putting women in powerful high-earning positions.

At dinner, my dad says, “Type any job.”

He passes me his phone and scrolls to a search bar at the bottom of an ABC article called: Want to know how much a job pays? Here’s the income for hundreds of Australian occupations.

I type Doctor because I don’t know where he’s going with this, the first thing that comes up:

 

 

My dad looks at me expectantly, then does the maths in his head, “$152, 680 – that’s how much less a woman earns.” He looks at me again, encouraging me to search for something else.

 

I finally do it, I type Author.

 

I feel like I’ve broken the system. On average, women earn more as an Author.

My dad says, “Median, $5,701 less.”

I shrug my shoulders and give him back his phone like, whatever, we’re not one of the world’s poorest nations like Rwanda. Just for fun, I Google Rwanda…

Rwanda’s constitution states that 30% of representatives at all levels of government be women. Today women in Rwanda hold 61% of the seats in Parliament. The constitution also created the position of gender monitor, which ensures public programs are complying with the country’s goals for gender equality.

My dad’s face says I can’t believe you can’t see how messed up this is. They must list the occupational earnings of men and women separately because of how big the wage gap is.

The median weekly earnings of Australian women in 2023 was $1,130; for men, it was $1,509. A difference of $379 a week. Yearly, women earn $58,760 and men earn $78,468, meaning a difference of 33.5%. That’s a deficit of $19,708 every year.

My dad always tells me that if an employer has two resumes with the same qualifications but not gender, the employer will always choose the man because the woman is likely to go on maternity leave. I thought, whatever, we’re not Lithuania, Japan, Sweden, Estonia, Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Canada, France, or Portugal.

Where men get paternity leave that’s more than 2 weeks.

Maternity leave is roughly eighteen weeks. $1,130 x 18 = $20,340, considering how close the wage gap is to this figure means it can be divided once. This means women should be taking maternity leave every year to make up for the absence in their wages.

Australian women start work at around 18 and retire at 54. Which equates to a total of 36 working years. Meaning we should have had 36 children throughout our careers. The average Australian woman has 1.7 kids in her lifetime.

If you take the wage gap and times it by 36 years, that’s $709,488, three-quarters of a million dollars difference over our working lives, just for being born with two X chromosomes.

It sucks. What kind of woman wants to contribute to this economy, to enter the regular workforce when these are our enslavement guidelines?

I can’t believe it took me so long to realise just how messed up it is, that the income for men and women for the same job must be listed separately. The fact that in 2024 Australia, I must still put up with such a huge wage disparity is disgusting.

Men and women should be paid equally, end of story.

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

 

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