Women need to recognise their strengths and sell their skills to realise their worth in the workplace, according to Curtin Leadership Centre Academic Director Dr Linley Lord.
Dr Lord was presenting on a panel for Women in Media WA’s latest industry event ‘What Are You Worth?’ held at Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley.
WIM is a not-for-profit networking group for women in public relations, communications, marketing and news media in Western Australia.
Journalist for The Australian and WIM founding member Victoria Laurie hoped the event would push women to think more about self-promotion.
“We are very good advocates for other people, but we’re poor advocates for ourselves,” she said.
“It took me a long time to learn that the only person who knew my total worth was me.”
ECU postgraduate broadcast coordinator Jo McManus and Editor of the Sunday Times Magazine Belle Taylor were also on the panel, led by Channel 7 Today Tonight reporter Syan Dougherty.
The panellists touched on a range of past experiences working in male-dominated industries before turning to the topic of pay.
In 2016 women earn on average 82 per cent of a man’s wage, with the gender pay gap sitting at 18 per cent according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Curtin University researchers released a study in March describing the gender pay gap as a “persistent issue.”
The study found the gap widened as women progressed in their careers, earning $100,000 less a year in a full-time top-tier management position.
Dr Lord said the figures demonstrated a need for change, in workplaces and in women’s attitudes towards self-worth.
“How do we find the language that allows us to sell ourselves and to recognise our strengths?” she said.
“If you can’t recognise what you’re good at and sell it, why should an employer?”
Ms Taylor said when she was working at China Daily in 2012 upfront conversations about pay provided a helpful point of comparison.
“In China, everyone talks about money all the time. Strangers will ask you what you earn. It’s a very open conversation,” she said.
Ms Taylor said open conversations about pay in Australia would give women a better idea of how their salaries compare.
“In Australia we’re very awkward about talking about money.”
Ms McManus said being assertive in the newsroom was essential.
“Sell what you’re good at and downplay what you’re not. That’s being assertive and saying, ‘I want this pay rise and I deserve it,’” she said.
Ms McManus said when she worked at Channel 7 her ability to break stories became a valuable asset, when the network thought another channel was offering her a job.
“Channel 7 thought that Channel 10 was poaching me – they hadn’t even approached me,” she said.
“I got a 40 per cent pay rise.”
Committee member and MC Miriam Borthwick encouraged the audience to continue the conversation within their workplaces.
“Tonight we’ve been given a great licence to start questioning and changing our language, and to start sharing with each other,” she said.
Article by Shelby Traynor: Shelby Traynor is a student journalist in her third and final year at Curtin University. She works at RTRFM as an assistant producer and reporter, writes and edits for multiple publications, and is now working on the national UNIPOLL project ahead of the federal election.