Women may be restricting their pay by not applying for highly competitive roles. Source: Creative Commons
Women may be restricting their pay by not applying for highly competitive roles. Source: Creative Commons

Written by Catherine Butt, edited for online by Ashleigh Whittaker.

New research from the US claims women’s lack of competitiveness may be contributing to the gender pay gap and inequality in the workplace.

The study from the University of Michigan found women prefer to enter “smaller competitions” by going for jobs with fewer applicants, whereas men seek larger competitions typically associated with “greater monetary rewards”.

But Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency said this isn’t necessarily true.

Executive Manager of Strategy and Engagement Jackie Woods said she doesn’t believe this is reflected in the real world.

“It’s quite rare for people to really know when they’re applying for a job how many other people are applying and therefore how competitive it is.”

She said inequalities may arise when it comes to wage negotiation.

“Women often don’t negotiate as hard around pay as men and that can contribute to [the] gender pay gap, so there is an onus on employers to be clear with employees about what parts of their salary package are open to negotiation.”

Industry Professor at the University of Adelaide’s Business School Petrina Coventry said more deeply engrained prejudices are to blame.

“Bias by an organisation which is still male dominated in many industries leads to these pay gaps.”

She said it’s not a lack of competitiveness, but a lack of courage that’s letting women down.

“The research that we’ve conducted in the past shows that one of the major contributing factors for the gender pay gap is a lack of confidence with women, so the ability to ask for the right and fair amount, or equal amount, is a contributing factor.”

She suggested liasing with the human resource department to help overcome any pay disputes.

Lead author Kathrin Hanek said the study doesn’t intend to “blame women” for gender inequality, but considers environmental factors that may contribute to it.

She said it is normal for women to be drawn to smaller social groups, such as those in a smaller job application pool, as it allows the formation of more intimate bonds.

Information source: https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf
Information source: https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

In Australia, the average difference between male and female pay packets is 17.3 per cent.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency is not aware of any similar findings of the study in Australia.