Paying them less, for being women

Unequal Paycheck

The fairer sex may no longer be confined to the kitchen but that doesn’t mean she can claim to be completely on par with her male counterparts.

Unequal colleagues : Women may work as hard as men but are still offered less salaries.Plenty of women may have taken the corporate world and other professional industries by storm, but there’s one issue that everyone seems to be keeping quiet about — namely, their paychecks.

Those who believe that cutting a woman’s pay is a practice that belongs to antiquity would be surprised — while most organisations obviously avoid blatant discrimination in this respect, small discrepancies are easy enough to sweep under the rug.

Metrolife speaks to professionals from a cross-section of industries to find out what their experiences have been.

Although occasional cases of such discrimination are infuriating enough, the situation becomes even more worrisome when such double-handed behaviour is considered the norm. Rama Anantharam, who worked for a garment manufacturing firm a few years back, points out that the firm’s remuneration policy was strictly against its female employees.

“The firm I worked in was in the manufacturing business — it would take large orders for garments and deliver them. The salary structure there was completely unequal — even if a woman performed well, she was paid less,” recollects Rama.

The figures are disturbing. “Men were given a yearly increment of Rs 2,000; however, women were given barely Rs 800 or so. And this policy extended to every woman in the firm, including the peons. They earned barely half of what the male workers used to get,” says Rama.

Anjan, an investment banker, is quick to assert that his own profession leaves no room for unequal remuneration. “In the banking sector, employees are divided into grades and compensated accordingly, regardless of their gender,” he says. However, experience has taught him that this isn’t the case in other industries. “I’ve gone through income statements of different firms in the IT sector, and there’s a slight difference here.

They too, practice a grade-wise system of compensation but at the initial levels, there can be slight discrepancies between the salaries that go to men and women — the latter are paid about ten per cent less. I wouldn’t say women employees are denied opportunities — but at the time of joining, it’s possible that their employers negotiate a slightly lower salary,” he explains, adding, “I think the assumption is that a female worker wouldn’t be as productive as a man — probably because of family considerations.”

However, not everyone agrees with this view; in fact, in some cases, the opposite is true. Yathindra Lakkana, a professor at NIFT, points out that women are actually given preference in the design industry. “In this field, women may actually be paid more.

One’s worth in this industry is based on their aesthetic sensibilities, and in this regard, women are considered to be better than men. One of my female students was picked up by an international apparel brand and is being paid quite an attractive package,” he explains. But is an exception?

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