According to a recent poll of 1065 voters, commissioned by independent lobby group WomenVote, 71% of Australians believe the government should be doing more to address the gender pay gap.
It’s hard to tell, however, how many of those believe the best way to address the gender pay gap is to deal with what one Liberal candidate has identified as the root cause of the difference between what men and women earn: women’s business skills.
Not the gender segregation that defines much of Australia’s workforce. Not the entrenched biases in our businesses and institutions and organisations that perpetuate inequality between men and women. Not the structural factors that continue to limit women’s capacity to engage in paid work.
Nope. None of that.
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According to Sachin Joshi, the Liberal candidate for the NSW seat of Paterson, it’s that men more actively seek business skills and responsibilities to boost their pay packets than women.
“The main reason for the gender gap lies in the ‘active interest (or lack of it) towards business skills/responsibilities’,” he wrote on LinkedIn in October of last year.
It is heartening and clear that a large majority of voters are interested in progressing women’s issues. My inkling is those who genuinely want to see the inequality between men and women in Australia addressed in meaningful and substantial terms recognise the barriers standing in the way.
One of the critical barriers to addressing gender inequality in Australia is the ignorance — willful or otherwise — of those in positions of power. The ill-informed views of Sachin Joshi about the pay gap are not remotely surprising. Blaming women for situations they find themselves in — having limited super, for example — is a popular, almost prolific, proposition.
But it’s had its time. If we want change for women, we cannot afford for Canberra to be home to individuals who are inclined towards that line of thinking.