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Why equal pay is so important

Greens Senator Larissa Waters says everything you ever need to know about pay gap. Preach.

By: Shari Nementzik

I know from first-hand experience that being paid less than a man for doing the exactly the same job is totally unfair.

In my first full-time job out of uni at a law firm, I learnt that the guy sitting next to me, also straight out of uni (where I had better marks than him!), was earning $5000 more.

We were doing exactly the same job, had the same experience, and that extra $5000 was a big proportion of our graduate salaries.

My male colleague had asked for the extra cash in the job interview, while it hadn’t even crossed my mind to negotiate on pay.

Research suggests that women are less likely to ask for a raise or negotiate aggressively.

But just because women are less likely to ask, doesn’t mean they should be paid unfairly, and this is why we need more transparency about pay, rather than secret negotiations.

I never would have known I was being paid unfairly unless my male colleague had let his salary slip in a casual conversation.

In Australia, we have different sets of rules in different workplaces when it comes to talking about your pay.

In the private sector, it's common practice for contracts to include gag clauses that prevent workers from discussing their pay with one another.

We know that where pay is kept secret, the gender pay gap is even worse.

The gender pay gap is much smaller in the public sector (12.2 percent), where workers are allowed to talk about their pay, compared to the private sector (21.3 percent) where these gag clauses exist.

As a Senator and the Australian Greens spokesperson for women, I’m introducing a Bill to the Parliament, which would outlaw these gag clauses, as a practical step we can take to finally achieving equal pay.

I’m also very proud to be tabling Cosmo’s equal pay petition in the Senate on November 11.

The more names we can get on the petition, the more power it will give me to convince the other parties that there’s too much secrecy surrounding the gender pay gap in workplaces today.

This is about real money, for real women, who deserve every cent of equality.

-Larissa Waters, Australian Greens deputy leader and spokesperson for women.

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