Closing the pay gap

As the nation celebrates Womens' Day, there is still a lot to be done for women in the workplace.

The way things were. Women on the Stockholm telephone system in the early 1900s.

CAPE TOWN - One of the biggest issues in modern Feminist thinking, is that of the pay gap.

That's the phenomenon that sees men getting paid more than women for exactly the same work.

It's a contentious issue, that raises hackles around the world.

Some maintain there's no such thing as a gender pay gap, but International Labour Organisation figures tell a different story.

The ILO analysed data from 83 countries, to search for evidence of the gender pay gap.

It found that in the countries surveyed, women are paid on average between 10% and 30% less than their male counterparts.

Some analyses, based on SARS tax reports, put the gender pay gap in South Africa as high as 30%.

A recently released report, by the South African Board for People Practices, suggests it's closer to around 15%.

The report aimed to inform the public about their rights and also to provide HR

practitioners with information on how to deal with issues of salary equity.

Professor Anita Bosch from the University of Johannesburg's Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management was the lead author on the report.

She says it goes hand in hand with changes to the Employment Equity Act, that came into effect last year.

The Act includes a clause that legislates equal pay for equal value, and should effectively close any gender-based pay gap that might exist.

Bosch says industries that tend to be "feminised" like education, are on average paid less than comparable industries.

"This gives us an indication that the labour of women, the types of skills that they have, for instance education that tends to be more nurturing, and supportive and so forth, the feminine characteristics are undervalued economically by society," she said.

Bosch says the gender pay gap is pronounced in sectors that are dominated by men, like the mining sector

"If you look at the senior salaries that are paid there, very often the senior women are paid less than their male counterparts in senior roles in mining."

Bosch believes further research and analysis is needed to get a true and full picture of the pay gap in South Africa, and decide on ways to eradicate the gap.

Listen to the full interview with Professor Anita Bosch here.