Gender pay gap, does anyone care?

Lately the gender pay gap discussion has been centre stage as the media is also grappling with the #MeToo movement globally.

In 2017 the BBC conducted the first big study into the gender pay gap surveying 10,000 big companies. It found that 78% of the companies paid men more than women sometimes by as high as 50% more or twice as much. Following the survey, the situation began to change for the better. By July 2018, the BBC reduced the gender pay gap to 8,4 percent. While we often hear the term gender pay gap talked in the Western circles it is rarely scrutinised in Africa. However, this is changing. The recently launched Glass ceilings Women in South African media houses 2018 report attempts to address this issue.

Data shows that the wage gap between women and men appears to be increasing in the media in South Africa. In 2018 the pay gap is 23% higher than 17% in 2009. Data also exposed that more women in the media in South Africa are on part time contracts more than men. Men were still taken seriously for promotion more than women.

“The gender pay gap is a concrete measurable indicator of sexism but human resources departments of media companies prefer to hide it,” notes the report. “Journalists in the South African newsroom and media companies do not seem to know what the gender wage gap is but they know it exists.”

The report says despite the media calling for transparency in public affairs, particularly with regard to money, the media itself is less than transparent in sharing wage data. The ask is simple: total earnings for men, divided by number of men, and total earnings for women, divided by number of women. Every human resource department has this information at the click of a button. Yet researchers for the Glass Ceiling Study have struggled to get sex disaggregated wage data. Only Jozi FM, Media 24 and Tiso Black Star Group out of the 45-community media, 13 private and one public media house who participated in 2018 study, agreed to provide sex disaggregated wage data.

The report notes that the gender pay gap is the most telling indicator of the disparities that still exist in the media.

“It encapsulates where women are in the media hierarchy as well as the different occupational areas of media work. It raises issues about conditions of service and what the media is doing to create family-friendly work environments. Most importantly it cries out to the media to walk the talk of transparency.”