Saturday, December 4

These are not anecdotes or myths. The wage gap between women and men exists.

  • Nina Riibe

    CEO of Econa

Employers should stop meeting mothers with “family-friendly” expectations and fathers with career-promoting attitudes, writes Nina Riibe.

Female top managers earn NOK 100,000 less than men.

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

Every year marks Union Equal pay day 15 November. The debate about women really earning less than men has been a hot topic among various middle-aged men, most recently with Kjetil Rolness’ comment in Aftenposten on Saturday 20 November.

Large unexplained wage differences

More than he has tried to contest the equal pay day by arguing for two things. 1) That there is equal pay for equal work among women and men when looking at identical positions in the public sector. 2) That women more often work part-time, choose occupations that give a slightly lower salary and say no to managerial responsibilities (!).

Let’s just state one thing at a time: there is a gap that still cannot be explained away.

There is a gap that still cannot be explained away

Not all women work part-time in the public sector. Econa consists of highly educated economists, most of whom work in the private sector. Our wage statistics and research in collaboration with Core (Center for Gender Equality Research) partly shows large unexplained wage differences between women and men in approximately the same role.

These are not anecdotes and myths, but statistics based on samples with almost 10,000 respondents. The wage gap exists. In the top management positions, women earn NOK 100,000 less than men.

“Family-friendly” attitudes

A big explanation lies in attitudes in the workplace and at home. Women encounter so-called family-friendly attitudes at the employer to a much greater extent than men. Attitudes contribute to a longer break from working life than is necessary for women. Many almost start again after a birth with accompanying parental leave.

On the other hand, fathers of economists have much shorter leave, no physical complications, work clearly more during the leave and take less responsibility at home.

The families’ own choices must be left alone.

Graded parental leave

What employers should do to reduce the pay gap is:

  1. Do not discriminate against mothers and fathers in terms of pay. 37 per cent of our female members believe that they have received poorer wage settlements due to parental leave. The proportion of men who state the same is 9 percent. These are women who are just as interested in career development, high pay, management positions and status as men.
  2. Talk together. All parents should have a leave interview with the employer. The conversation will help to create a clear and predictable framework for what is expected from both parties. Career progression is a natural part of this conversation.
  3. Facilitate graded parental leave. Some work provides a good opportunity for both parties to talk to each other through parental leave. Therefore, more people should use that opportunity. Men do the same to a much greater extent than women.
  4. Today, all employers (and everyone else) can, and should, stop meeting mothers with “family-friendly” expectations and fathers with career-enhancing attitudes.

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