Turns Out The Gender Pay Gap Is Still Nowhere Near Closing In Australia

This year marks 50 years since women won the right to equal pay, yet the gender pay gap still exists.

gender wage gap

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Ladies, what could you do with an extra $25,679 a year?

That’s how much more men are taking home than you on average, according to the latest data from the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Their key findings were released today, based on 2018-19 reporting data, which shows that men still out-earn women across every industry, occupation and manager category.

On average, the pay gap sits at 20.8%.

Most of the report is pretty depressing, so let’s get to the good stuff first.

There has been a solid increase in employer action on domestic violence policies. Just over 60% of employers have strategies to help staff members facing family violence. Since having an effective support system for victims can be the difference between staying in an abusive situation and leaving, this is a good sign of progress.

That seems to be the one positive to come out of the report.

Overall, however, it shows that women still continue to earn less than men, are less likely to advance in their careers and stockpile less superannuation for retirement.

And when it gets to that ever elusive glass ceiling, progress has stalled.

While the number of female managers continues to grow, there were no increase in the number of female CEOs and overall, female representation on boards has barely changed in the last year. Only 17.1% of CEOs are female, 26.8% of board members are female and 39.4% of managers are female.

Looking at the data, it seems there is a lot of good intentions, but not much action.

While 75% of employers have a strategy for gender equality, only 32.2% have key performance indicators to check their outcomes. And while 44.7% of organisations now take the time to analyse pay data, 40% of those employers took no action to actually close the gap. Which, really, kind of defeats the point.

Before people jump in to point out that women cannot be paid less for doing the same work as men — yes, equal pay is legislated, but the gender pay gap is different to equal pay.

In fact, this year marks 50 years since women won the right to equal pay.

Despite this the gender pay gap still exists, and is influenced by a number of complicated things.

This includes: discrimination and bias, women and men working in different industries that are valued differently by society, women still doing an uneven amount of unpaid caring and domestic work, the under-representation of women in leadership roles, lack of workplace flexibility, and women spending more time out of the workplace to care for children.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s scorecard (which, coincidentally, came out on International Men’s Day) is based on data which covers 40% of employees across Australia.

You can see more here.