Employers and Manufacturers Association chief Alasdair Thompson has answered a question feminists have been struggling with for years – why is it that in this day and age, women still earn less than men?
Well, gee. Could it be that employers always assume that women are in it for a job, not a career, and that job will be dropped the second they fill their womb? Is it that women are consistently undermined in the office and often have to work much harder than their male counterparts to gain the same acceptance and respect? Could it be that many large corporations are still, in many ways, an old boys’ club? Is it that women are always assumed to be the primary caregiver, at all times, and therefore employers automatically assume that the mother will be the one to take the time off when their child is sick/has an important event at school/etc?
Alasdair Thompson is sticking by his claim the gender pay gap is due to women having monthly “sick problems”, babies and needing to take extra leave.
Leaving aside the blatant cissexism of that statement for just a moment (not everyone who has a uterus is a woman and not all women menstruate, kthx): say it with me, Alasdair Thompson: period. We get our periods once a month. We menstruate. If you have to use ridiculous euphemisms to describe it, then as far as I’m concerned, you forfeit your right to discuss it.
Not to mention, the majority of people who menstruate don’t have to take time off once a month. Most, even if they do experience some cramps, can pop a Panadol and make it to work anyway.*
And babies? REALLY? This may come as a shock to you, Mr. Thompson, but some parents SHARE the responsibilities of their children. Also, solo fathers exist. Should we pay them less, too? And if there are still a shockingly disproportionate amount of working mothers who are still expected to take full- or almost-full responsibility for childcare, rather than sharing that equally with their partner — then blaming and underpaying women will not fucking help that, goddamn.
The issue of working mothers and pay rates for women is a vicious cycle. Women are paid less than men because their dedication to their career is seen as lesser, because ladies, your first priority is and must always be babies — but because they’re paid less, they are often the ones to give up working if their family situation calls for it (because them giving up work, or cutting back their hours, will make less of an impact due to the lower pay rate) — which just convinces employers that women are less dedicated to their careers than men… and over and over again.
So Alasdair Thompson, it would seem that you are woefully misinformed about the realities of the pay gap between men and women. And why shouldn’t you be? After all, it’s not like in your position, you would ever have to think about these things. Or be expected to make public statements on this very issue. Am I right?
No, wait. I don’t think I am.
*I am not one of those people. I have severe PCOS and am absolutely crippled by pain at least one day a month – usually two or three. I take a TON of sick days, comparative to my colleagues — who are mostly (over 90%) female. And yet, it doesn’t make a damn iota of difference to my pay rate — if I use up my allocated sick days, I can either take annual leave or have an unpaid day (I tend to take the annual leave). While realising this is in no way an option for everyone, taking a few days of unpaid sick leave each year will NOT drastically affect your salary in the way that, you know, discrimination will. Just saying.