…especially if you are a woman.  OK! I can hear the groans from men from here!  For heaven’s sake, we have worldwide legislation that ensures that women get paid the same as men – so what on earth are you bleating about!!

And yes! To a point you are right.  Throughout most of the western economies, legislation was passed that gave (on the surface of it) the right for a woman to be paid the same amount as a man for doing equal work of the same skill.
The EEC even enshrined it in the Treaty of Rome signed in 1957.  Article 119 states Each Member State shall in the course of the first stage ensure and subsequently maintain the application of the principle of equal remuneration for equal work as between men and women workers.
The UK was not a signatory of the Treaty of Rome and legislation to address the inequality of wages had to wait until 1970, when the Equal Pay Act finally passed.
And France, who did sign the Treaty of Rome with that famous declaration, waited until 1972 before doing anything about it.  And while Ireland signed similar legislation in 1972 it didn’t come into effect until five years later; 1977.
But surely in that bastion of economic enterprise, the USA, thing were better.
As far back as 1963 the Federal Government of the United States made it illegal for men and women to receive different rates of pay for “equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions”
And here in Australia, “equal pay for work of equal value” was introduced in 1969 under the old centralised wage fixing system.
So what am I blathering on about then!
Because despite all the hype; all the legislation it simply isn’t true.  In 2008 the International Trade Union Confederation commissioned a report on the Global Gender Pay Gap conducted across 63 countries; which clearly showed that on average, ‘women earn 84.8% of men’s earnings’.  Ref –Chubb, C Melis S, Potter L and Storry R eds International Trade Union Confederation Reports 2008, The Global Gender Pay Gap, Brussels
Yes, but that would have been taken over a number of third world countries that have very low paid workers and who discriminate against women – which would skew the results. It is different now in the US, the UK and Australia surely?
Well, here in affluent Australia, a country built on its sense of fair play, the National Foundation of Australian Women’s website  under the tab “Equal Pay” states “Almost forty years after Australia’s first federal equal pay case began, women’s wages are stuck at only 84 per cent of male earnings.
So why is this important for the job interview? 
You might find that there is a set wage structure announced in the application.  This means that there is very little room to negotiate.
But if you do your research properly, you should have found out about the company; done some investigation into the company culture – and [I would hope] found out about the wage structure for this industry or career path; and a good place to start is ‘The Salary Survey by Countries’ website. 
So, regardless of gender, you should have some idea of what the basic wage structure is for this job – so how does that compare to the offer?  If there are major discrepancies you might like to ask the reason for that at the end of the interview.
Many women feel disadvantaged in wage negotiations with prospective employers, by not knowing the basic rate.  They are then never sure if they are being offered the same as a male employee would receive. I have spoken to many women who complain that they never knew the discrepancy until after they had taken the job.
However, checking out the basic wage for this job, with your knowledge and experience, women will now know what the start rate is; and any offer which is significantly less than that should be challenged. 
Wage negotiations are a difficult and sensitive issue; and often the applicant desperately needs the job, and that could affect a willingness to be more aggressive in negotiations.
But the law has a number of requirements that work on your behalf, check out the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman’s   site to find out more about the rates that may be relevant in your case.
Investigation of the rates of pay which apply for this job in this industry or career path before you attend your interview gives you a much better chance of negotiating a fair outcome – and if you are a woman, that is very relevant.

So don’t waste time wondering about wages – there are a number of sites that can help you find
 out what is the fair and legal amount you should be paid in return for your work.

Michele @ Trischel 
Interview Skills Workshop
14th April 2011 – Brisbane


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