It’s 2017, and women are still being paid less than men around the world. Here’s the situation in Malaysia, and how you can really get what you ask for.
We’ve all heard about the gender pay gap. After all, the discrimination and inequalities that lead to women getting paid less than their male counterparts for doing exactly the same job pervade all areas of the workplace. From any old corporate office here to the highest echelons of Hollywood where even influential actresses such as Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence have spoken out, there is only one question — why aren’t we paid the same as men?
There seems to be no end to woeful statistics about the existing pay gaps. For example, the World Bank reports that between 2011 and 2015 across the world, on the average, a woman earned US$76 (about RM340) for every US$100 (about RM445) that a man was paid, and according to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2016, women will be paid less than men for the next 117 years.
GOING UP THE RANKS
Recent statistics show that in Malaysia, women accounted for only 15.2 percent of director positions in the top 100 public-listed companies and that the average monthly salary for women is 4 percent less than that of men despite having the same qualifications, working hours, and job responsibilities. Oftentimes, the pay gap becomes wider as the ranks go higher.
And just by virtue of having a uterus will put you at another disadvantage. If you take a career break after having a baby or for your family (this is a likely chance, since 56 percent of women here in Malaysia have done so), there is evidence that re-entering the workforce would be a challenge. A 2017 study by Robert Walters showed that 44 percent of women returning to work in Asia took more than four months to secure a job, and 35 percent of employers in the region have offered less than 5 percent of returning women a similar or more senior role. That means when you do come back, you may need to start all over again.
But rather than this problem being solely the fault of male bosses and sexist institutions, a new theory suggests that salary inequality is something we can control. The “gender ask gap” poses the difficult question: are women not as good as men when it comes to negotiating? Are men more bullish about asking for salary increases? Are they really more positive about their financial value than women, who are reportedly scared of seeming “bossy” when it comes to stating their financial worth?
A new study by researchers in the US and UK says otherwise. Surprisingly, the study shows that women ask for more pay just as often as men do, but they get it less often. The report revealed women were 25 percent less likely than men to get a pay rise when they asked for it. James Wallman, a Futurist who helped compile Yell’s The Future of Gender Equality Report — which predicts that there will be gender pay parity by 2045 — believes that the ask gap is “absolutely real”.
“Reality and expectations influence each other in all aspects of life and that ’s as true in salary as anywhere else,” he says. “In general, since women have been paid less, they expect less, so they ask for less. It ’s a self-reinforcing circle that supports the status quo. “Of course, these factors impact what women get paid. The ask gap isn’t the only reason men get paid more than women, but it ’s an area that’s ripe for fixing.”