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Closing The Gap On Gender Pay

University of Stellenbosch Business School Research Chair: Women at Work Professor Anita Bosch sheds light on the gender pay gap, why this matters, and what can be done to change it.


University of Stellenbosch Business School Research Chair: Women at Work Professor Anita Bosch.

In her guide, The Gender Pay Gap for the Already Converted, Anita states that it is “a toolkit of rational arguments and suggested actions to use to help to close the gap at individual, organisational and national level”.

“If women are paid the value of what they are bringing and this value is accurately reflected in money, they get to have a different sense of self-worth,” Anita says. “In Germany, unpaid work is calculated, and it makes up a third of their GDP. Unpaid care work makes up a huge proportion of the economy. At the moment it is not recognised in any of our official economic statistics in South Africa.”


The guide mentions that an estimated number of 12.5 billion hours a day are spent by women globally doing unpaid care work. It continues to explain that women who persistently earn less than men are unlikely to accumulate wealth and financially look after themselves when retired. Coloured and Black African women are most vulnerable to this, according to the 2001 - 2010 census.

In 2018, director at PwC Rene Richter wrote that in South Africa only 20% of women hold senior positions. The Gender Pay Gap for the Already Converted guide, says that in 2018, of all domestic workers, 97% were women and of managerial positions women only held 32%. Among other reasons such as educational level, experience and hours worked, Anita shares that patriarchal norms form part of the gap.


“Unconsciously, women are probably contributing to patriarchal norms embedded in culture. It is not purposeful; it’s just how you grew up. You were socialised in a particular way of showing ‘respect’ or thinking a girl shouldn’t need to know about math. That with other factors does influence the outcome of pay,” she says.

Companies with 50 or more employees are required to annually report equity statistics, which includes some pay data, to the Department of Labour. However, those with less than 50 employees don’t necessarily have to, as they don’t have enough manpower to compile lengthy reports. This could overburden small businesses. “Small businesses can voluntarily file reports, according to the Employment Equity Act. The King Codes also come into play. For a good reputation, it’s advised that companies comply with good governance practice [whether the business is big or small]. Ensuring that pay is fair, responsible and transparent will help small businesses to flourish,” Anita adds.

The guide supplies many ways of how women can work around closing the gender pay gap. Many females would want to go with their ambition to get fair pay and better positions at work, but they have to be careful of how they use that ambition, as it may be seen as an emotional or aggressive move threatening the advancement of their careers. Investing in education can also afford women higher-paying jobs however, this does not guarantee equal pay with the male counterpart.


For more on the gender pay gap, Anita recommends a study by Jacqueline Mosomi, post-doctoral fellow at the South African Labour and Development Research Unit.


Author: Yonga Balfour