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White Ribbon’s position on the gender pay gap data

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between average weekly full-time equivalent earnings of men and women. It is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

The national gender pay gap is currently 16% (as at February 2017). Over the past twenty years, the national gender pay gap has been between 15% and 19%.

White Ribbon’s position on the gender pay gap data[i]

Gender pay gap data gives us an important insight into the overall position of women in the workforce. Over the past twenty years, the national gender pay gap in Australia has remained between 15% and 19%. This reflects the ongoing influence of work, social and family factors on women’s experience of employment.

Gender stereotypes about the work that men and women ‘should’ do, along with stereotypes about the way men and women should participate in paid employment, have a considerable influence on the gender pay gap. Generally, women and men work in different jobs and in different industries. Historically, female-dominated jobs and industries have attracted lower wages than male-dominated jobs and industries.

The gender pay gap data also highlights the impact of unpaid care responsibilities on the employment experience of women, for example:

  • More frequent breaks from paid employment, for example to care for children.
  • Women are more likely than men to work part-time or flexibly.
  • Lack of women in senior roles, including a lack of part-time or flexible senior roles.

Other contributing factors include differences in the educational attainment and work experience of men and women.

Indirect and direct discrimination against women continues to contribute to the gender pay gap.

Why we need to close the gender pay gap

To realise gender equality, we must close the gender pay gap. This involves breaking down gender stereotypes about the roles of men and women in the workforce and the home and recognising and addressing unconscious bias in the workplace that favours men and limits women.

Narrow gender stereotypes harm both men and women. Examining social definitions of manhood will help remove the pressure on men to, for example, be physically strong, not show emotion and be financially successful. These expectations of men create the conditions for violence, abuse and control of women to occur. This is why closing the gender pay gap is so important to achieving gender equality. It benefits everyone to address gender stereotypes and gender inequality[ii].

A whole-of-community approach is key to achieving gender equality, and workplaces play an important role in providing the conditions that support gender equality at work.


White Ribbon Australia thanks the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for assisting with the formulation of this statement. You can learn more about the gender pay gap on their website:

[i] Workplace Gender Equality Agency (February 2017) Gender Pay Gap Statistics. Available from:

[ii] Kaufman, M. (1999) The Seven P’s of Men’s Violence

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Men as allies in preventing men’s violence against women: Principles and practices for promoting accountability.

The following is a summary of a paper by Bob Pease and Ann Carrington. The full paper can be accessed here.


Men have not always been involved in efforts to prevent men’s violence against women. This work was pioneered by feminist women.

Over the last thirty years, men have become increasingly active in individual and collective campaigns and programs to prevent men’s violence against women. The White Ribbon Australia Ambassador Program is an example of this. These men are allies in the prevention of men’s violence against women, as opposed to leaders:

Being an ally means having a supporting role in relation to campaigns under women’s leadership rather than as leaders or equal partners. This is because of men’s dominance and the privilege and the structural gender inequalities within which men’s violence takes place. [i]

This is challenging work for men and for the organisations working with them. Allies, as members of the dominant gender, can reproduce the same inequalities that violence prevention campaigns attempt to deconstruct[ii], [iii]. For example, some male allies do not see the connection between themselves and the ‘bad’ men that perpetrate violence, when in fact all men benefit from dominant masculinity[iv]. These men may also receive a disproportionate amount of praise for the violence prevention work they do, known as the ‘pedestal effect’, which can contribute to the marginalisation and silencing of women[v].

This may happen because men have a limited understanding of the structural causes of men’s violence against women and the history of the women’s movement response to men’s violence against women:

Men need to understand their role in the reproduction of gender inequality and their shared responsibility for the continuation of the structural gender relations and the patriarchal culture which supports men’s violence against women.[vi]

What is accountability and how does it help?

Accountability processes help organisations and men to be alert to these and other consequences of men’s engagement in the prevention of men’s violence against women. There is no single, universally accepted definition of accountability, but there is a range of research and practice that men and organisations can draw from to start practicing accountability[vii]. It is important to note that men will need education in accountability regardless of the type of accountability process implemented[viii].

Pease[ix] outlines a number of strategies for men to promote accountability:

  • Learn about your privilege as a man and start to reflect on and reject traditional masculinity: ‘The more that men are reflective about their own privileged positioning, and take action to challenge it, the more likely that they can be effective allies (Curry-Stevens 2004).’[x]
  • Acknowledge what men have learnt from women and the decades of work that women have done in response to men’s violence against women: ‘It is important for men to realise that we are a ‘Johnny come lately’ to men’s violence prevention and that we have much to learn from women.’[xi].
  • Listen to women: see yourself as a woman sees you. Find ways to learn from women and hear about their experiences.
  • Develop trust with women doing violence prevention work: trust is earned, not given: ‘Men have to earn [women’s]…trust by building up a track record and by walking the walk’[xii].
  • Engage in alliances and create shared spaces that can illuminate and challenge oppressive relations when they arise[xiii].
  • Acknowledge when you make mistakes and don’t get defensive: ‘Women often report men becoming defensive in response to feedback; whereas, men should learn to receive such feedback as constructive criticism’[xiv].
  • Hold other men accountable to women: it is not easy for men to break social conventions and call other men out when they are being sexist, but this is critical to building trust with women and realising accountability[xv]. Carrington[xvi] identifies this as critical to accountability and argues that allied men’s collectives have a key role to play in holding individual men, organisations and institutions to account.

The challenges of accountability

Accountability raises a number of complex issues, despite being generally accepted as important. For example, which feminist perspective should a man align himself with? While there is no straightforward answer to this question, men should attempt to understand what feminist women are saying as a collective by educating themselves on the diversity of views and making what Pease calls an ‘informed, respectful and strategic choice’[xvii].

Other challenges identified by Pease[xviii] include: balancing the learning journey allies are on with the hurt allies can cause when they make mistakes; developing multiple forms of accountability to address multiple forms of social injustice and men’s moral responsibility to be active decision makers.

Carrington notes that accountability requires a reversal of power relations and that this is a fundamental challenge of accountability:

…this is in contradiction to the conventional model where those with less power are held to account by those with more power…In reality, what power does the subordinate or oppressed group have in holding the privileged or oppressor to account? [xix]

Learn more

To learn more about accountability, read the full paper by Pease and commentary by Carrington here.

[i] Pease, B. (2017). Men as allies in preventing men’s violence against women: Principles and practices for promoting accountability. Sydney: White Ribbon Australia, p. 12.

[ii] Carrington, A. (2017). Accountability: Whose responsibility is it? A commentary on ‘Men as allies in preventing men’s violence against women: Principles and practices for promoting accountability’.  Sydney: White Ribbon Australia, p. 31.

[iii] Pease, op. cit., p. 6.

[iv] ibid., pps. 6-7.

[v] ibid., p. 9.

[vi] ibid., p. 11.

[vii] ibid., p. 12-16.

[viii] ibid., p. 16.

[ix] ibid., pps. 21-24.

[x] ibid., p. 21.

[xi] ibid., p. 22.

[xii] ibid., p. 22.

[xiii] ibid., p. 23.

[xiv] ibid., p. 23.

[xv] ibid., p. 24.

[xvi] Carrington, op. cit., pps. 32-33.

[xvii] Pease, op. cit., p. 18.

[xviii] ibid., pps. 18-20.

[xix] Carrington, op. cit., p. 31.

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