On the 50th anniversary of Australia’s historic equal pay legislation, significant gender pay gaps still persist in many of the STEM professions. Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton noted the need to look at systemic biases that reinforce discriminatory historic work patterns such as the concentration of women in roles and occupations with less seniority or security and lower pay. “It’s not just about pay in like-for-like roles. We need to address the factors that contribute to women leaving the STEM workforce or self-selecting out of more senior roles. We need to look at barriers to advancement and the career penalties that apply when individuals opt for part-time work. We need to address overt and covertly hostile work cultures, sexual harassment and the gender stereotyping that can underpin a range of recruitment and advancement practices in some workplaces, ” Walton said.
“We won’t fix the gender pay gap,” he said, “until the structural factors that contribute to women earning less are addressed. If we don’t look beyond pipeline issues to look at the reasons why women leave the STEM workforce, any chance of increasing participation rates and addressing the under-representation in STEM over the long-term will be lost and we’ll be looking back in another ten years still wondering why we haven’t managed to do what’s needed to ensure employers have access to the broadest pool of high-quality talent in STEM and why the pay gap is so entrenched. A quick look at the figures on the gender pay gap in some of the STEM professions shows we’re still a long way off pay equity. And we can’t let commentators play politics with this – it’s about getting our best and brightest into STEM and not losing them – it’s about removing barriers to merit-based advancement – not quick fixes or preferential treatment.”
“Gender diversity in STEM is a mainstream economic and workforce development issue and a key reform priority for the coming decade.” See the gender pay gap infographic here.