Saturday, January 30, 2016

The LGBT Pay Gap by Renae Kaye

Today I’m exercising my right to blog and making a comment on an article I stumbled across today:  here

This article has nothing to do with writing or when my next book is going to be out, so you may wish to turn off right now.  Sorry.  The brave may read on.

The article was written back in February 2015 about a paper an economist, Andrea La Nauze, from the University Melbourne wrote and published.  Now, I’m not an economist.  I went to university, but I studied Physics and Chemistry.  I have no qualifications on what I am about to say, apart from my own brain, and my own experience.

To summarise, the paper studied the gender wage gap and found the men receive 19% more average income than women.  This is terrible.  It’s wrong.  However, the author then went further and studied the average income in relation to that person’s orientation.  (Don’t ask me how the data was collected, all I did was read the article).  It found that straight men earn, between 8-18% more than gay men.  And surprisingly, gay woman earn, 0-13% more than straight women.

According to the article, La Nauze theorised that gay men are discriminated against (*gasp* big surprise), but when determining why gay women earn more than their straight counterparts, she had the conclusion that employers preferred gay women, because they thought they would be less like to have children.

A solid theory.

But a little wobbly.

Now, I’m a firm believer in gay rights, but I’m also someone who has lived in the world and experienced it.  If this is the only reason La Nauze can find, then she hasn’t met enough people.  She maybe needs to come out from behind her books and numbers and say hello.

My theory is this: personality counts for a lot.

We’re all adults, and we’re hopefully intelligent enough to know that not all gay men are femme and less-than-masculine.  We also know that not all lesbians are butch.  However there is enough of them for the stereotype to ring true, and this could be skewing the results.  Gay men are more likely to have feminine traits, and lesbians are more likely to masculine traits.

And in my experience, men are different from women when asking for what they think they deserve.  Perhaps it is male-privilege striving forward.  Perhaps it is some natural trait men are born with, but as a whole, men seem to be more forward in asking for things like payrises and promotions.  There have been studies on it, and the studies have found, that during a job interview a male is more likely to exaggerate their experience, and a woman is more likely to underestimate her experience.

I know my husband, who is the shy one in our relationship, has marched off to work and demanded a payrise during an employee review.  I was horrified.  Me, who would easily get up on stage in front of hundreds of people and talk, who isn’t shy to speak her mind, and who talks to strangers in the grocery store, was horrified my husband was demanding to be paid a fair wage.  I’ve always been more likely to accept whatever they want to pay me, then grumble and grizzle behind my employer’s back.

Recently I had to have a course of two needles every week for 23 weeks.  The nurse at the local doctor’s surgery had to give them to me.  She had some trainee nurses come in and shadow her work for two weeks each.  There were four different students who I saw – the third was male, while the other three were females.  I was astounded at the difference between the young women, and the young man.  Of course, this could purely be their personality, but I tend to think that this is where the differences between men and women show up.  The nurse, Jeanette, explained to each trainee how to draw up the needles.  She explained why I was having the needles, how to record the information, where to inject it on the body, etc.  The three girls stood back and watched, nodding as Jeanette explained.  The guy? Well, he was in the thick of it.  He fired off a couple of questions at me, and then asked Jeanette if he could have a turn in drawing up the fluid.  He was all eager to stab me as well.  (The bastard.)

This is my experience in most of my life.  The females tend to stand back, watch, allow others to go first, and accept what is given.  The men demand more.  They will speak up if the service at a restaurant isn’t good enough.  They will take the item back to the store and demand a refund.  They will tell the unwanted doorknocker to take a hike.

If you’re a female, and you’re sitting, reading this and saying, “I do those things - I stand up for myself,” then well done.  But answer this honestly: is this the norm for your friends, family and neighbours?  How many women you have worked with, gone to school with, seen in the grocery store accept what is given to them and never murmur a complaint?

So, do we think that the gay men who have the more feminine traits may also accept without complaint?  And do we think that the lesbians who are receiving higher than the norm, and are skewing the results, are they simply standing up for their rights and asking for a better wage?

And do we think perhaps gay men are attracted to occupations that straight men seldom do – the ones that are low paid, but high reward?  I know childcare assistants are some of the lowest paid in Australia, along with housekeepers, laundry workers, hairdressers, waiters, pharmacy assistants and checkout operators.  All occupations that seem to be disproportionally filled by women.

Is it perhaps the gay women who are less attracted to these jobs and pursue careers as medical professionals, mining professionals, and engineers?

So Andrea La Nauze points the finger at the employer, and shouts that they are being discriminatory.  Probably they are, because we all know there is a gender pay gap and an ethnic pay gap, so there’s a guarantee to be some discrimination out there.  But is the employer the only one at fault?

Perhaps we need to value our girls more, and tell them that they do deserve the same wage, and you have the right to say so.  Perhaps we need to tell our gay young men that they don’t need to accept less, and that being gay doesn’t mean you have to apologise.  And perhaps we need to tell our employers to listen to the little man.

For me?  Am I surprised that a gap exists?  No.  But I was surprised at by how much it existed

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

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