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Jenna Price: Gender pay gap wide as ever

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Photo: Simon Rankin

An older friend of mine asked me the other day what ''mansplaining'' means. It's a term I'm not all that crazy about because it stereotypes men. If I've spent my life trying to argue against stereotypes (although, whoops, it's true, I am a humourless feminist), then how is it equitable if I try to paint an idea of men with the same narrow view?

Mansplaining, for those of you who have not come across it, is the idea that men can explain the situation that women find themselves in better than women can explain it. At least that's my version.

The slightly grubby Urban Dictionary has a few definitions too.

This: ''To explain in a patronising manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticised or even rejected altogether.''

Or this: ''To explain something in an unnecessarily long-winded way, so as to dominate the conversation, and to make statements that are not based on facts, assuming that people will believe and agree with him because he is male.''

All of which will resonate with any woman who has ever had a man speak over the top of her when he has no idea what he's talking about.

November is, in my mind, Mansplaining Month. That's the time the White Ribbon Day falls - and it's also the time of the year when men's rights activists will tell you once and for all that we must not forget about the men who are victims of domestic violence and that this concentration on women is unjustified.

Well, yes, we need to make sure any victim of violence is supported. But no, there is just no evidence to say men are as much victims as women in this area. Not one shred of evidence.

Despite the fact that I hate to use mansplaining as a reason for anything, I'm beginning to be very tempted.

That's because of figures released by the Australian Institute on the gender pay gap.

People, no matter what you say and how often you say it, the gender pay gap is real.

Men and women earn different pay for the same work; and the gap is not getting smaller or changing in any significant way.

Researchers all over tell us that this is a fact. From the World Economic Forum to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the figures tell the same story.

No amount of mansplaining can cover this up. It's not because we take time off to have babies. It's not because we want to pick up the kids from school. It's not even because we don't want stress.

It's because men are valued differently to women by their employers. Even though we know this is true - because people who are paid to research fairly and thoroughly tell us - I will get men telling me time and time again that it's not. That I just don't understand the ''structural issues''.

The people at the Financial Services Institute of Australasia reported on this last year when they asked men in financial institutions whether women were well-represented at senior levels in their organisations. Two-thirds of men said yes and two-thirds of women said no. Workplace Gender Equality Agency figures reveal women make up fewer than 10 per cent of CEOs in financial institutions, yet men surveyed thought that was the definition of well represented. I suppose it's an improvement on having no women at senior levels, but it makes me wonder if they can see what we are seeing.

Now the lovely people at the Australian Institute have proved it for me. They asked Australians about pay equity. ''If a woman does get the job, do you think she would be likely paid: less than the man would have been offered, the same as the man or more than the man.''

Fortunately, for the sake of my mental health, only 2 per cent of men actually said they believed a woman would be paid more. Around one-third said, accurately, that the woman was likely to be paid less.

Just under 70 per cent believe in the fairytale of equal pay.

As I trawled through the figures, I kept shaking my head. Then I thought I might just ask a man to explain this to me. Because, bias. (I'm joking).

I've interviewed social commentator Hugh Mackay, most recently author of The Good Life, over 30 years, and he is as obsessed with finding out how Australians think as I am.

For him, the figures show men think the battle is over.

''Older men are naturally reluctant - power sharing means giving something up,'' he says.

''The gender revolution has been tough for both sides, a lot of struggle for women and a lot of adaptation - and failure to adapt - for men.''

Failure to adapt. Nice to know we have a name for it. At least it is less insulting than mansplaining.

Twitter @jennaprice or email jenna_p@bigpond.net.au

16 comments

  • Not a shred of evidence? Just.... wow. I guess you didn't do much (if any) research in your attempt to write about this. Or maybe the findings are an inconvenient truth you didn't want to refer to in your agenda-ridden article? Here's a start for you, which you would have easily found if you were a proper journalist: http://goo.gl/6o1tIv

    In summary: around the same number of men are assaulted by their female partners as there are females are assaulted by men. Female-perpetrated violence is actually higher than male-perpetrated violence in cases of partner abuse. Rates of partner violence around the world are higher for woman as abusers than they are for men as abusers. And so on. There's plenty there for you to read - if you actually want some evidence.

    I find it disgusting that you try to present as if men are not victims of female-perpetrated violence in domestic abuse cases, as if it just doesn't happen. Anyone can easily find evidence of what you claim doesn't exist, which only serves to tarnish anything you could possibly write about it as if it doesn't.

    The evidence is out there, and for you to say it isn't is deplorable. There are many, many men who are victims of violence who need support, and people like you are eagerly attempting to deprive them of it.

    Considering the evidence IS there, just like there's evidence of male-perpetrated violence against women, how would you feel if there were men writing articles about how they can't find evidence of women being victims of domestic violence? It would be described as evidence of misogyny, of woman-hating, trying to present the lie that women are not victims of domestic violence. So what does that make you for doing the same thing about men?

    Commenter
    Alan
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    December 10, 2013, 11:20AM
    • Or this one http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17042186& Facts are so annoying sometimes.

      Commenter
      johnA
      Date and time
      December 10, 2013, 5:42PM
  • And for any of you who weren't sure, Alan has just provided one of the most perfect examples of Mansplaining you'll ever see. Thanks Big Fella. Irony, much?

    Commenter
    Lfe507
    Date and time
    December 10, 2013, 1:34PM
    • So mansplaining equals reasoned argument supported by facts that a feminist does not happen to agree with?

      Commenter
      johnA
      Date and time
      December 10, 2013, 4:25PM
    • Mansplaining is what you call it when you don't like what's being said, even if it's factual.

      Commenter
      Modern Primitive
      Location
      BRisdabe
      Date and time
      December 10, 2013, 4:48PM
  • Thanks for mansplaining that for us Alan. PS: you're wrong.

    Commenter
    Charlie
    Date and time
    December 10, 2013, 1:41PM
    • As if on cue.....

      Commenter
      Sandra
      Date and time
      December 10, 2013, 2:01PM
      • The pay gap research doesn't take into account overtime worked.

        Commenter
        Modern Primitive
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        December 10, 2013, 2:06PM
        • Even though I haven't been able to find the research Jenna Price referred to anywhere on The Australia Institute website, I did however find a policy brief titled "What's choice got to do with it?". The analysis in this policy brief excludes any overtime worked by both men and women.

          Without knowing exactly which report is being referred to, no assumptions as to whether overtime work was included or not can be made.

          As this is a contentious and much debated issue, not knowing the primary source (and therefore not being able to fact check it) always seems to lead to unfounded statements from both sides.

          Commenter
          John Stuart Mill
          Date and time
          December 10, 2013, 3:07PM
        • It excludes paid overtime, but men work on average around 3 hours per week more than women. Most white collar jobs do not pay overtime.

          Commenter
          johnA
          Date and time
          December 10, 2013, 4:22PM

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