1001EHR Employment Relations
Assessment Item 2: ESSAY
Several explanations have been put forward to explain why the gender-wage gap persists in Australia. Pick two and critically evaluate each.
Within Australia’s workforce history, there has been a strong presence of the gender wage gap between men and women. The differences in wages between men and women still seem to persist in today’s society (Sap 1993). A study by van Wanrooy (2009) suggests that even though there is an increase of women in the labour market, they still have the caring responsibilities, looking to juggle work and family. Throughout the workforce, there is still a significant barrier present which suggests that the ‘male breadwinner’ is still the evident employment model in Australia (van Wanrooy 2009). Women seem to have a people and family first approach to work, while men tend to respect their work life and value money more (Pon and Nyhus 2012).Women’s struggle within the labour market often results from the lack of bargaining power within their chosen occupation and their skills (Preston and Jefferson 2007). Firstly, this essay will discuss the relationship between bargaining power and the current issue of the gender wage gap within Australia. This essay will explore the reasons as to why women struggle to bargain with their employers on the issue of wages and fair working conditions. Secondly, this essay with explore why the difference in personality traits between men and women contribute to the gender wage gap.
A striking explanation for the present gender wage gap within the Australian workforce is the lack of bargaining power that women currently hold in their workplaces. Within Australia, women generally work in low paid and low skill occupations. This in turn limits their access to representation and strong bargaining power when it comes to negotiating pay outcomes, particularly in part time jobs (van Wanrooy 2009). As previously stated, women tend to work in low skilled jobs which then disadvantages their bargaining power. Van Wanrooy (2009) states that those people with high skill levels within their occupation are seen to have more confidence and motivation towards bargaining for more desirable pay and work conditions. Furthermore, this suggests that men have a higher bargaining power over women. This is due to the fact that 46% of women are more likely to be given work in a lower skilled job compared to the low 36% of men that are employed in low skilled jobs (van Wanrooy 2009). This then gives men a greater opportunity to bargain for better wages, while decreasing women’s contingency to narrow the gender wage gap through bargaining power. The segmentation of women into low paid jobs and occupations has clearly limited access to bargaining power, and resulted in women relying on minimum wages distributed through the reward system (van Wanrooy 2009). In a study by Frino and Whitehouse (2003) , it is also seen that with the over representation of women in the award only sector, this clearly disadvantages women in seeking higher bargaining power and doesn’t decrease the persistent gender wage gap. As female workers are more likely to work in industries with 100 employees or less, this jeopardises the chance to gain bargaining power to negotiate wages through unions. This is due to the fact that there is a lower chance of unions to be present in smaller businesses (van Wanrooy 2009). This creates an issue for women as they are the ones that need protection and the bargaining power of the unions. While women in low skilled occupations are less likely to be union members, union membership is almost doubled when it comes to men in the same occupation (van Wanrooy 2009). With women in low qualified jobs, less likely to be union members, this impacts their ability to collaborate with their employers over the issue in the wage gap between genders.
Within the labour market, it is demonstrated that because of the difference in...
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