Pursuing Equal Pay: The Perspectives of Female Engineers and Potential Policy Interventions
McGregor, J; Graham Davies, S; Giddings, L; Pringle, J
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The gender pay gap of higher paid women working in traditionally male-dominated sectors has received less analysis in equal pay research than low paid, female-dominated and undervalued women’s work. This article explores equal pay from the perspectives of female engineers, well paid women working in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector in New Zealand, who perform work of the same or like nature to male engineers but who are paid less for doing so. It explores the gender pay gap against the complex intersections of labour market de-regulation, family demands, work and the ‘cost of being female’ that women in engineering must constantly navigate. The research uses quantitative pay data in the sector disaggregated by gender, and new qualitative data from focus groups and interviews with 22 female engineers. It finds a surprising lack of transparency around pay and remuneration in the sector at the individual level which negatively impacts on women. The article concludes by recommending new public policy initiatives for equal pay in sectors like engineering, where individualised negotiation and bargaining is embedded in neo-liberalism.