Why graduates need to know about the gender pay gap

Published for ATS2440 – The Public Sphere (Monash University):

I’ll be the first one to fess up – prior to this project; the gender pay gap issue was something I knew nothing about. Okay, so I wasn’t completely unbeknown to it, but my knowledge of the debate was very limited to say the least. In hindsight, I’m ashamed to say it was something I never really looked into because I knew it wouldn’t affect me in the long run.

But when I finally sat down and did my research on the issue, the statistics were like a slap in the face. When I learned that there was a 15-18% gender pay gap (approximately $5000) across all industries, my chain of reaction was somewhat tantamount to the five stages of grief:

Denial. (“This has to be some kind of joke right?”)

Anger. (“I can’t believe this is a real thing, how are people okay with this?!”)

Bargaining. (“Maybe if we talked about it more this wouldn’t have happened.”)

Depression. (“Well this sucks.”)

(Acceptance).

Now I put the last one in brackets because I haven’t progressed to that stage, and quite frankly, I don’t think I ever will. I can’t, nor will I ever, accept this as a reality in today’s evolving society.

The fact that women get paid less for doing the same – if not a better job – than their male counterparts but still reap less financial rewards is not only unfair, it’s an insult to their dedication and efforts to their chosen field. While 15-18% may not sound like much, when you stack it all up over the years, the gap is too huge to ignore.

What this experience also got me thinking about was my own situation and how previous to discovering these shocking statistics, I really had no idea about the issue. When you’re occupied with part time jobs, freelance work, commitment to studies and a million and one assignments to complete, the opportunity to sit down and sift through all the research material presented on this debate just never seems to present itself.

And that is why the Graduate Pay Gap organisation is such an important initiative. It’s there to specifically target the university population, informing them about this debate before they enter the workforce so they know what to expect. I’m sure there are many students like myself who haven’t the faintest inclination towards the issue, only to get slapped in the face (again, like I was when I found out) when they are actually working full time. By giving students the knowledge about the gender pay gap, the organisation encourages them to work with their boss in eradicating it in their workplace, subsequently helping to move the debate forward and demand equal pay for everyone.

Simply put, we need to give credit where credit is due.

Stop this inequality.

Stop this insulting injustice to women.

Stop the gender pay gap.

To learn more about the Graduate Pay Gap and join their cause, check them out here.

Image: Fatima Al Hammadi

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