Always wondered if you’re drawing the same salary as your male counterparts for the same amount and type of work? Then you need to know that you probably are paid less than them. Because, yes, a gender pay gap actually exists in Singapore.
Glassdoor, a job site that also provides insight on company working cultures, released a report in March this year about how men generally earn more than women here. It used a sample of 5,096 salaries of Singaporean employees with an average age of 33 and found that:
- Singaporean men earn an average base pay of $71,631 per year
- Singaporean women earn an average base pay of $61,653 per year
- This amounts to a difference of $9,978 in base pay a year—a 12.8 percent gap
- In other words, for every dollar a man here earns, a woman here gets 87 cents
The report also found that when we compare workers of different genders with the same age, job title, employer and location among other factors, the adjusted gap is still 5.2 percent.
The unadjusted gender pay gap widened last year
According to data released by the Ministry of Manpower, the gender pay gap here widened in 2018.
In 2017, the median wage for Singaporean women working full-time was 90.8 percent of the median wage for men. But in 2018, this figure decreased to 87.5 percent—the lowest in the past decade.
Why is this happening?
According to the Glassdoor report, 60 percent of the reasons can be accounted for, while the other 40 percent remains “unexplained”.
Of the former, 45 percent is due to “differences in education and experience”.
“Men and women tend to take on different paths early on in life, and the differences in their college majors play a large role in the differences in their career paths,” says Dr Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.
And 16 percent is due to “occupational sorting”.
“Men and women tend to get sorted into different positions for a variety of reasons, many of which are deeply rooted in traditional gender norms,” he says. “Men tend to sort themselves into higher-paying roles such as computer programmer, while women tend to sort themselves into traditionally lower-paying roles such as nurse or teacher.”
“Also, women tend to bear heavier household responsibilities, so they often require a job with more flexibility but lower pay.”
But not all of the reasons can be explained
According to the Glassdoor report, the unexplained pay gap could be attributed to factors such as workplace bias. This includes being made to do “office housework” (i.e., non-promotable work). They may also not be as skilled when it comes to pay negotiation, or may have been out of the workforce for a while (to, say, care for children).
Women also pay more than men for the same type of stuff
Heard of the “pink tax”? It’s when there’s an extra charge on goods and services for women, even though they’re almost identical to those for men. And it also exists in Singapore.
An article in The Straits Times from last year highlighted this phenomenon—and it’s way more rampant than you might think. For example, a razor for men costs about $1 each ($6.40 for a pack of six), half the price of a razor for women, which costs about $2 each ($6.40 for a pack of three).
A razor kit for women costs $13.15 on Redmart, while a similar razor kit from the same brand for men costs $10.90. And a shave gel for sensitive skin, which includes aloe vera in variations for both genders, costs $10.80 for men at local drugstores but is $11.90 under a different range for women.
The article also noted that women pay 50 cents more to get their blouses laundered at the dry-cleaners, while one laundry service charges a dollar more to dry-clean blouses compared with men’s shirts.
However, in an interview for the article, Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon from the National University of Singapore’s Business School explained that prices can vary for near-identical items because of the differences in demand and supply.
“The revenue generated from women’s razors will be less than that from men’s razors, so the manufacturer has to make up for this lower turnover through differentiated pricing,” Professor Ang said to the newspaper. In other words, since we don’t shave every day like men do, we spend less on razors. As such, businesses make up for the “loss” by marking up the prices of goods marketed to us.
But is it right for us to be paying more for products labelled “for women”, especially when we generally earn less across the board? And if not, what can we do to eradicate this gender-based price discrimination?
Pondering over an answer? Scroll the gallery to check out pay gap stats in Singapore while you’re at it.