Big drop in gender pay gap, but men still earn 21.3% more

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Big drop in gender pay gap, but men still earn 21.3% more

This year saw the biggest single-year drop in the gender pay gap according to statistics released by the Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) today

This year saw the biggest single-year drop in the gender pay gap according to statistics released by the Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) today, however, there is still work to be done.

The 2017-18 data shows the gender pay gap has been declining each year for the past five years. This year recorded the biggest single-year decline in the average full-time total remuneration pay gap at 1.1 percentage points.

“The five years of data collection demonstrates the value of measuring workplace gender equality,” said WGEA director Libby Lyons.

“We have clear evidence that employer action delivers real results and we should recognise the great work many employers have done in addressing issues such as pay equity.”

Despite recent improvements in the gap, men still earn 21.3% more than women on average across all industries and occupations. 

More female managers but not CEOs


The data also records a steady increase in the number of women in management roles as well as strong growth in employer action in areas such as overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

“Women now comprise almost 40% of the managers in our dataset and almost a third of key management personnel, which is just under the CEO level, are now women,” Ms Lyons explained. 

However, the statistics also reveal virtually no change in gender segregation across Australian industries and little improvement in access to paid parental leave. While there has been an increase in female managers there has been little change in the number of women at CEO level and on boards. 

“We now need even more employers to take action so that we can accelerate the momentum for gender equality in Australian workplaces,” said Ms Lyons. “Access to parental leave has not improved, with the provision of paid primary carer’s leave actually going backwards. The glass walls persist in industry segregation, which remains deeply entrenched in Australia. The glass ceiling is still a barrier for women at the CEO and board levels.”

Nothing to celebrate


The United Voice union says the report is nothing to celebrate.

It says the report is not a comprehensive snapshot of working women in Australia and ignores the systemic undervaluing of workers in feminised care industries, instead focusing on the top end of town.

Helen Gibbons, assistant national secretary of United Voice, said the 108,000 women working in long day care and the 300,000 women working in aged care had not seen their gender pay gap close, in fact in these parts of the economy the report showed it had increased.

Ms Gibbons said: “There really is a huge hole in this report, the truth is that hundreds of thousands of working women in Australia are not represented. The report does not look at the reality for low paid working women in highly-feminised sectors like early learning, aged care and disability support.

“The report presents information about boards, executives and promotions – really about the people at the top end of town."

She also pointed out that "the report is drawn on data from less than half of the Australian workforce (only 40% of employees) and doesn’t include small and medium sized businesses from all over Australia (over 100 employees). It is not representing the situation in highly-fragmented workplaces (multiple small employers), like the care sector. Of course we want more women on boards and more female executives but we also want the thousands of qualified women working in early education to get paid more than $22 per hour."

More information

Download the WGEA 5 year data comparison here
Download the 2017-18 gender equality scorecard.
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