What you said: the pay gap

It’s been a busy week in our comments section, with the gender pay gap proving to be a hot topic

Readers responded with interest to an AJP story in which Australian Taxation Office data showed male pharmacists in the retail, industrial and hospital pharmacy sectors consistently out-earn their female counterparts.

Several reasons were suggested for this, with a number of readers suggesting that the pay gap exists simply because men work more hours than women. (The ATO data showed only income, not hours worked).

“My wife and I are both pharmacists… comparing tax returns our ‘gender’ pay gap is 47% extra in my favour. She works three days a week, I work five and a half… funnily enough when expressed as a percentage that is almost the same ‘pay gap’,” wrote Shannon Mullen.

Several readers wanted to know the breakdown of male versus female hours worked, so here it is: according to the National Health Workforce Dataset Pharmacy 2015, male pharmacists worked 39 total hours per week on average, while female pharmacists worked 33.5 average total hours.

Thus while working only 5.5 hours less per week than the average male pharmacist, the average female’s salary was over a quarter smaller.

The most hours were worked by male pharmacists in the 35-44 age group, at 41 hours per week on average. Female pharmacists who worked the most were aged 20-34: their average was 36.5 hours.

As well as hours worked, several other issues were put forward. Reader Cat said that while she had never been paid less per hour than her male peers, she says “I have openly been told I could not be considered for partnership within a group where I had worked for 10 years, as I was female”.

“I have also numerous times over been given the less sociable hours on the roster, as it did not ‘impose on my personal life’ apparently,” she said.

JimT said, “I would like to know whether it includes proprietors incomes and if so a break-up of employee pharmacists and owners”. (Sorry Jim, the ATO data didn’t go into that level of detail.)

Amanda Cronin said she had always been paid less per hour than “less qualified and less industrious male colleagues”.

She says the fault lies with her, though.

“Men are generally just pushier when asking for more money—I just find it annoying to do the same or more work and get paid less but my fault for not demanding more. I don’t like asking small or less profitable pharmacies for more money as they have plenty of difficulties in the current market.”

Jarrod McMaugh took a wider view, suggesting there is “still a cultural issue in the way that above-award wages are paid to different groups of people”.

“Amanda makes a comment below that she may be ‘at fault’ for her wages for not demanding more,” he wrote. “Maybe this is the case for individuals, but it’s compounded by a bigger issue in that people still place higher value on men’s work than women’s, without any justification for this belief.

“What I’m saying here is that the default wage the ‘average’ employer has been willing to offer men is higher, so on average men will take home more wages even when they don’t demand more than the initial offer.

“Add to that the acceptance of men in negotiating their wages, while it is frowned upon for women to do this, and you get greater disparity.”

And reader Jonesy isn’t buying it at all.

“There is no gender pay gap in favour of males,” he wrote.

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