Parkinson takes on ‘deeply offensive’ gender accusations

The head of the Australian Public Service is one of the most unlikely bosses to be accused of gender bias, given his personal track record as a champion of change, but that’s the unusual and illogical claim levelled this week.

Addressing “deeply offensive” criticism of his department’s multiple pay scales and personal attacks on his executives, the secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has come out swinging. The response Martin Parkinson was moved to publish on Tuesday afternoon is as hard to fault as the op-ed it responds to is hard to understand.

Columnist Jenna Price suggests the difference in pay ranges between two comparable mid-level executive positions in different offices within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is a blatant example of the gender pay gap and the gendered workforce from which it emerges.

Her evidence is that one job in the department’s longstanding social policy division pays more than another in the Office for Women, which moved into the department after the Coalition was elected in 2013. She implies the background of the woman charged with running the Office for Women shows its work isn’t understood or taken seriously enough.

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