Survey: M’sians confused about gender pay gap

PETALING JAYA: Majority of Malaysians do not understand the meaning of the gender pay gap, research by international survey agency YouGov revealed.

Although three in five Malaysians or 62% claimed to have some understanding of the term “gender pay gap”, 71% were unable to correctly define it.

Only three in 10 or 29% were able to correctly select the definition of gender pay gap, which is the average difference between salaries for men and women.

Most commonly, it refers to the median annual pay of all women employees compared to the pay of a similar cohort of men.

Over half (55%) thought the term only meant women being paid less than men for doing the exact same work, or vice versa.

“The remaining one in seven (15%) didn’t know altogether, ” said YouGov in its report published on Wednesday.

The survey, which polled 1,087 Malaysians, also found only 26% believed that women were paid less than men as a whole.

About 30% of women were more likely to believe this compared to only 20% of men.

Meanwhile, less than half or 47% believed that no gender pay gap existed and that both genders were paid equally.

Also, a small percentage or 8% think that men were paid less than women although this was predominantly believed by men, or 13% of them compared to only 4% of women.

“Looking at the contributing reasons for a gender pay gap, Malaysians identified fewer leaderships offered to a particular gender (46%) as the top factor.

“This is followed by unconscious bias (40%) and a particular gender doing jobs that don’t pay as much (29%), ” said YouGov.

Other reasons include a particular gender not working as hard as another gender (24%), a particular gender working fewer hours than another (23%), and a particular gender being less educated than another (21%).

But most Malaysians, or 66%, agreed that it is important to close the gender pay gap.

Two-thirds, or 67%, also agreed that laws should be enacted to prevent a gender pay gap.YouGov Omnibus Asia Pacific head Jake Gammon said that while studies have proven a gender pay gap exists in Malaysia, it appeared that not too many Malaysians understood what it meant.

“When it comes to discussion about fair employment practices, the topic of gender pay gap often crops up.

“What is clear though is the difference in views between men and women about the topic, with women finding the issue more unjust and pressing, ” he said.

This echoed a global debate on the gender pay gap fuelled by a World Economic Forum report last December that said it would take 202 years to close the economic gender gap.

According to 2018 data from the Statistics Department, the median and mean salary for Malaysian women were lower than that of their male counterparts.

The median salary for Malaysian women was RM2,227 while the mean salary was RM2,959. Comparatively, Malaysian men earned a median salary of RM2,342 and mean salary of RM3,174.

The median salary for Malaysians overall was RM2,308 with a mean salary of RM3,087.

The median salary means the middle-most value, or the salary where half earns more and half earns less than that amount.

The mean salary is the average amount achieved by adding all salaries together, and then dividing it by the number of people.

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