In every country around the world, there is a wage gap between women and men. It is more obvious on a societal level, where the labor market is divided both vertically -men are overrepresented on higher and better payed positions in al sectors-, and horizontally -women and men are found in different sectors, where women dominated sectors have lower incomes.
Sometimes we hear voices stating that the explained gap is not very interesting from a feminist perspective. Women choose lower income jobs and they don’t build a career, so the pay gap has a ‘natural’ explanation. The same way of thinking is of course also applicable within an organization: if the reason women in general are earning less is because they are overrepresented in the cleaning staff and underrepresented in the leading positions, we are all fine, right?
First of all: why are women dominated professions in general have lower incomes than men dominated work? And this is regardless of the importance of the job or the responsibility carried.
Secondly: why are women choosing differently from men? They both choose different professions in their youth, but many women ‘choose’ not to develop a career for some reason.
And third: if we look at the consequences of the gap, they are the same regardless of the causes. Women keep being economically vulnerable and depending on men, no matter WHY they are payed less. And this vulnerability accentuates with time, when salaries are turned into pensions.
This shows the importance of eliminating wage differences on all levels. Yes, the tools usually presented and the legal demands are usually about mapping and evaluating professions. And this is very important, tracking down pure discrimination in the organization. But equally important is to look at the big picture and relate it to society as a whole.
An equality problem is not about what we do and how, but about the consequences of our actions. And equality work is not about making sure you fill the law requirements. It’s about working for equal power and opportunities regardless of sex and gender. Don’t ever forget about that!
Christina Ahlzen, Medida