The Australian Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency has reported today that new data reveals that workplace gender inequality is still rampant, with men earning $27,000 a year more than women.
Many would be familiar with the oft quoted statistic that women make only 70-80 per cent of male earnings, and the report restates that.
While the report continues to push the line of “gender pay gaps and under-representation of women in management and leadership roles”, the agency’s media statement makes no mention of choice or the employment preferences of actual women. It assumes that men and women, indeed, everyone has the same goals and preferences when it comes to career and income.
Sweden is famous for its affirmative action programs, and has for a couple of decades thrown a concerted effort into getting more women into engineering professions in order to great some kind of gender ‘balance’. Countless funds and female affirming courses and environments have scarcely budged the proportion of female engineers a couple of percentage points. While there are some women who want to become engineers, and they should not be discouraged, that vast majority of women do not. The reality is that very few women choose a career in engineering compared to men. Shouldn’t people be allowed to choose the career they want, rather than conforming to the dictates of others?
Men currently make up approximately 93 per cent of all workplace deaths. That is a horrendous statistic which I am sure few have heard, and I know of no campaign which seeks to address this ‘imbalance’. Is the fact men comprise more than 90 per cent of workplace deaths due to discrimination and gender inequality? Perhaps some of it is. But perhaps it also has to do with the choices that men make when it comes to employment, and that more often than women, men choose to work in potentially dangerous professions such as mining, transportation and the military.
There is much more to this story than the well known line than women only make 73 per cent of male earning. In fact, in certain age groups, women earn on average more than men. Unfortunately, few scratch below the surface. Much of the discrepancy has to do with the preferences that people have and the choices that they make.
At the end of the day, employment choices should be made by the families and individuals themselves, according to their preferences and circumstances. They should not be dictated to by policy makers and social activists who more often than not treat men and women as merely the same, and interchangable atoms who can be slotted into career boxes. Of course, men and women are more than interchangable atoms, in fact no two people – whether male or female have the same preferences or make the same choices. The freedom to choose, rather than the prescriptive dictates from above should be the aim of the game.
There is much more to gender and employment choices than the superficial slogans we are frequently given. I encourage you to check out these short clips below from Learn Liberty. They shed some light on what has become at times, a confusing and overly politicised issue, and one that is often obfuscated by rhetoric.
Photo by University of Salford