Gender pay gap_TheStarApril09

Date: September 17, 2009
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This article may be used to:

  • Draw attention the gender pay gap in the work place.
  • Highlight likely reasons behind the gender pay gap.
  • An example of an article that uses innovative imagery.
  • Open up a much needed debate on why women fare less in the workplace.
  • As an article that sources experts and gives their contact details.
  • As an example well researched article.

Trainer’s notes


The articles draw attention to the gender pay gap at the workplace, with most women faring very low compared to men. In South Africa the gender pay gap is placed just under 25%.This trend is apparently not unique to South Africa, but stretches world wide, with Japan faring the worst at 33%.Sweden recorded the best scenario with women earning 8% less than their male counterparts. Though this figure is not as bad as other countries’ scores it is still not good enough. A lot still needs to be done to put women on the same salary scale as their male counterparts.

The disparities are explained.Whilist in the past the differences lay in women not beings as skilled and experienced as their male counterparts ,this is now changing as most women are empowering themselves with skills. The hindrances are now social hindrances. Women are said to be less inclined to work long hours, relocate to remote areas or take financial risks, which can be directly linked to family commitments. Due to their motherly and homely nature women are likely to think of their family’s security, comfort and well being and wouldn’t be as willing as men to take up positions that are likely to jeopardise this.

The article talks about women today having more options and choices, whilst this might increases a woman’s chance of climbing the corporate ladder and earning as much as their male counter parts it is still not enough. Focus should be directed to the nature of the workplace. South Africa’s workplace is still sexist and still does not give women enough support and therefore aren’t likely to exercise those choices. Furthermore being armed with many degrees is not enough for one to be promoted as employers look at other things such as the amount of over time one puts and the amount of off days one days thus putting women at a disadvantage because they are not likely to put as much overtime as men due to family commitments .Women are however, likely to take more days off than men to take care of sick family members. Research which states that single women earn more or the same as men after graduation and the first five years after graduation supports this. Single and younger women do not have as much family commitments as older and married women, therefore can afford to take ‘business risks.

The article is highly commendable for encouraging people especially women to make themselves competitive and maybe indispensable at the work place by keeping their knowledge current through attending relevant workshops, taking relevant courses and improving their skills.

Furthermore, the article uses innovative imagery. Showing a mother sitting behind the keyboard typing and holding her baby at the same time portrays that women have to juggle between family commitments and work commitments. The article is well researched as it gives gender pay gap world wide trends showing how South Africa fares compared to the rest of the world. The article also sources experts in the field and gives their contact details so that readers may contact them for more details. All these are signs of good journalist practices and should be encouraged.

Discussion Questions

  • Is affirmative action a necessary engine of promoting previously disadvantaged groups (in this case women). Discuss . Ask participants to write this article for their local newspapers.
  • Can men and women hold similar positions? Should they earn the same?

Training exercises

  • Ask participants discuss the gender composition of their own work places. Who hold management and decision making positions, men or women?
  • Conduct vox pops asking people about what job roles are for men and women.

Other training resources


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