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Equal Pay gap

Aussie women still get raw deal in pay equality

  • 73% of Australian organisations have a pay gap that heavily favours men.
  • On average women earned some $25,800 less than men in 2020-21.
  • During the period the pay gap actually widened for 37% of employers.

Aussie women continue to be paid less than men with the results of Australia’s gender equality scorecard released today (February 11) painting a dour picture for the Lucky Country.

Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows that the pay gap between men and women is nearly 20% and on average, women earned $25,800 less than men in 2020-21.

While WGEA’s gender equality scorecard shows that 42% of employers have reduced their pay gaps since 2020, the pay gap actually widened for 37% of employers, while 21% remained static.

Seven in 10 Aussie employers pay men significantly more than their female counterparts on average and 73% of organisations have a pay gap in favour of men, 20% have close to no pay gaps, but only 7% have a pay gap in favour of women.

Construction, financial services, and professional and scientific services were revealed to have the largest pay gaps. However, construction was the worst at almost 31%.

As previously reported by Grafa, while mining giants such as BHP (ASX:BHP) and Woodside (ASX:WPL) have introduced gender balance goals in the workplace, mining is still a sector with the largest gender pay gap in average weekly earnings with males earning an average of $2,863.30 while females take home just $2,326.50 per week.

Last year, Australia ranked equal last on the gender pay gap scorecard across six countries – Australia, France, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Based on 11 indicators, the Lucky Country received a score of 4 out of 11, ranking equal last with the UK. Spain topped the list, scoring 8.5.

It seems Australia has been moving backwards. The country was one of the pioneers to implement legislation for equal pay in 1969 and 1972, and later with gender equality reporting since 1986. 

Just a decade ago, the Workplace Gender Equality Act was enacted to require employers to report data by gender on remuneration, workforce composition, and the recruitment, promotions and resignations of all employees. This data goes to WGEA.

Meanwhile, Forbes magazine has ranked the highest paid entertainers, and the top 10 personalities in the 2022 edition were overwhelmingly musicians – and all of them men.

According to WGEA the gap between women’s and men’s earnings is a symptom of a broader cultural problem in workplaces. 

Among other aspects, it reflects the historic and systemic undervaluing of women’s workplace contributions and the significant barriers that lead to the under-representation of women in senior executive and management roles.

WGEA says it’s influenced by a range of factors including conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions; lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles; high rates of part-time work for women; and women’s greater time out of the workforce for caring responsibilities impacting career progression and opportunities.

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