Will We Ever Be Equal?

The long-standing debate concerning gender equality is never ending. Is there equality in the world or is there not? Is it just another way for businesses to gain publicity? This topic of discussion causes nothing but controversy, but who doesn’t love a little controversy? So let’s delve straight into it!

Just recently, Triple J announced the opening of a new café in Melbourne, Handsome Her, which aims to make a stand on the ongoing gender pay gap debacle. The owners put three house rules at the front of the café, which states that women have priority seating; men will be charged an 18% surcharge to reflect the gender pay gap, which will be donated to a women’s service; and respect goes both ways.

As expected, once the word got out, there was speculation across social media, both positive and negative. From what’s been gathered, a lot of what was being posted online came down to people feeling like it was creating a bigger divide between the two genders. How are people suppose to feel when a café that is trying to take a stand for gender equality are in fact contradicting itself by making men feel unequal.

The 18 per cent figure was published by Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s 2016 report, which contained information that placed the average full-time base salary pay gap at 17.7 per cent. Although the 2017 report shows that the full-time gender pay gap is now at 16%.

So what is the public saying?

When people attempt to make a stand on issues such as the gender pay gap, it always ends up resulting in an argument because the concept itself is easily contradicted– as shown in the café’s attempt. However many people seemed to miss the minor detail that the surcharge will only be in place for one week out of every month, and on top of that – it is up to the men to make their own decision on whether they would like to pay the premium.

The café doesn’t want to push these rules down people’s throats, but instead aims to put the option out there in hopes that their male customers will make their own decision to support the gender pay gap. In the end, however, the overall aim of this decision was to start a discussion and raise awareness of an issue that is often swept under the rug.

After all this talk about gender equality, doesn’t it encourage you to think why it’s even an issue in the first place? Where’s the justification to all of this?

Once I started doing my research, it became fairly apparent that there are a couple distinct assumptions out there that tend to keep reappearing in the results.

What women choose to study

A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the gender pay gap is attributed to the lack of women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) jobs. “Gender differences in college major have been found to be an important determinant of the pay gap between college-educated men and women.” Did you know that 6 out of every 7 engineers are males?! Somehow the percentage of women making up these STEM jobs around the world is a contribution to the gender pay gap.


The reason why motherhood remains a contributing factor to the gender pay gap is due to the old-fashioned beliefs about parenthood. Crazy right? You would’ve thought this stigma was non-existent by 2017. The idea that women are likely to take on less strenuous jobs in case of future events (pregnancy), or that they are more inclined to change their plans because of their partner’s career have been found to still be a determinant to the gender pay gap. But! Women who don’t ever plan on having children are still being paid less than men, just because it’s assumed women are less committed.

So to have equality, are women expected to just stop having children? That’s ridiculous. Social scientists say – in order to bring about some change to this dilemma, the first step could be to take away the pressures of working long hours and face time, and the government to start thinking about subsidising childcare and a considerate time for parental leave.

In countries such as Denmark, gender equality is not as much of an issue as it is in Australia. For example, in the workplace, both parents are eligible to receive paid parental leave. Although it may not be under the same circumstances, it still demonstrates an effort to eliminate gender inequality, whilst the gender pay gap is still pertinent in Denmark.

The owner of Handsome Her isn’t the person to publicly commit to closing the gender pay gap by fighting against gender inequality. Earlier this year, ABC made the controversial decision to only use female presenters in celebration of International Women’s Day, and the Melbourne council changed its pedestrian traffic lights to portray a female figure.

Beauty manufacturer, L’Oreal, does an exceptional job of closing the gap in gender inequality. They encourage females to take on higher position roles that are traditionally held by males and have worked greatly to make this happen, by putting in place leadership programs to assist women to take on these roles.

So to wrap this up, we want to know how you feel about the café’s efforts to do something about the gender pay gap. Are you for it, neutral, or against it?

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