Australia is a nation that has always advocated equality — this is even the first country to legislate for gender equality. Despite its vigorous efforts since 1969 to foster gender equality in the workplace, the gender pay gap in Australia persists at 14.2%, which is at the same level as in the early 2000s.
The gender pay gap has been an antagonist in women’s lives since the dawn of Adam and Eve (perhaps) . According to a study, women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. In any profession you peep in, you would rarely find women earning more than men. The gender pay gap persists everywhere, even in Hollywood where all the glitz & glam come from women. As in wise words of an American actor, comedian, and writer Tina Fey:
The boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.
Similarly, the gender pay gap in Australia is also not showing a significant change despite its legislatures. Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) conducted a study to assess the gender pay gap reporting in 6 countries using 11 indicators. Australia and UK ranked last with scoring 4 out of 11. The results were astounding, considering the country’s constant efforts to advocate gender equality on all levels. The report indicated that despite the legislatures, the country lacked a meaningful transformation towards equality.
So, in this article, we will look into the gender pay gap in Australia. All the data has been extracted from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) dataset and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The infographic shows the National Gender Pay Gap in May 2021 and the changes every year. Similarly, it also shows gender pay gap by state and territory, and gender pay gap in various professions.
Gender Pay Gap in Australia
The gender pay gap or gender wage gap is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women who are working – Wikipedia
The gender pay gap (GPG) is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings, according to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
Various researches suggest that there are several reasons for the gender pay gap. Men and women workers work in different professions as per their expected gender norms. This occupational segregation enhances the gender pay gap as women-dominated professions offer lower pay and fewer benefits.
Similarly, female workers, due to their family obligations such as child care, work part-time or take a break from work. Due to this gap in career, men gain more professional experience, hence are earning more and also end up in leadership positions. Besides, women may not always be available for more overtime work due to their domestic obligations. This also affects their career and growth opportunities.
Women also earn less due to gender discrimination at the workplace. Men in most organizations are given more precedence than women during hiring, raises, promotions, and allocation of assignments. Discrimination at workplace affects not only their productivity and but also their morale.
Australia — The Land of Fair
Australia has always identified itself as the land of “fair go”
We have a very unique culture in Australia and we have a very good mixture of capitalism and free market, but we also have a culture of fair go, of looking after each other — Former Prime Minister Malcolm
Australia’s cultural, social, and political domain all for centuries revolved around the idea of the fair go. The general meaning of fair go depends on the each individual’s perception of fairness and justice. That imbued an egalitarian approach that agrees that it is fair and just to give everyone equal rights. It is fair and just to provide equal opportunities to people, irrespective of their gender, social status, and ethnicity. Similarly, it is an egalitarian objective that there should have an equal distribution of wealth. Every child should have access to the same schools. And every citizen’s needs should be met.
No More Fair Go?
According to research, one in four Australians has recently experienced major forms of discrimination. The Indigenous communities and religious and racial minorities have endured the highest levels of discrimination in Australia. Gender discrimination is also rampant as men are given more precedence at work than equally talented women.
Men dominate the political and economic spheres in Australia. Men get more growth opportunities than women in the workplace. The pandemic has further accelerated gender discrimination as more women went out of work during the pandemic than men.
People assume that Australia has so far overcome gender discrimination. Its two recent legislatures Workplace Gender Equality Act of 2012 and the Fair Work Act of 2009 have helped the pay gap to considerably diminish. However, the researches indicate that gender discrimination particularly the gender pay gap in Australia still persists.
The National Gender Pay Gap at May 2021
The current gender pay gap in Australia is 14.3%. Using data from ABS, WGEA calculated the national gender pay in Australia. The research indicates that women earn $261.50 less than men. The average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of women in all occupations and industries were $1,575. That was less than the earnings of men of $1,837.
Similarly, as the infographic also shows, the weekly full-time total earnings gender pay gap (overtime payments included) is 16.8%. The average weekly total full-time earnings of women were $323.30 less than that of men.
Besides, women’s average total weekly earnings (above all plus part-time) were $486.20 less than that of men. Hence, the total earnings gender pay gap of all employees is 31.3%.
Changes in the Australian Gender Pay Gap from May 2001 to May 2021
As the graph demonstrates, for the last two decades, the national gender pay gap in Australia stayed between 13% and 19%. The gender pay gap has increased by 0.8 percentage points from 13.4% in Nov 2020 to the current 14.3%. This is due to the rise in average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of men as compared to women. The growth of the male-dominated construction industry accounts for the rise in men’s earnings during this period.
Similarly, ease in COVID-19 restrictions by May 2021 also accounts for the increase in average weekly earnings. The increase in earnings reported is at a similar pattern to pre-pandemic ones.
The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 also helped in keeping the gender pay gap at a balanced rate since 2012.
The Gender Pay Gap by State and Territory as of May 2021
Across Australian states and territories, the full-time average weekly gender pay gap differs. Many factors account for this difference. The industry profiles of each state and territory also contribute partially to the gender pay gap.
As shown in the table in the infographic, Western Australia reports the highest gender pay gap in Australia of 21.9%. This is because more full-time workers in this region engage in Mining and Construction sectors. This is an industry with high earnings but unfortunately very low women participation, hence the high gender pay gap in this region.
Similarly, the gender pay gap in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is low (7.9%). The majority of the full-time workforce in this region is employed in Public Administration and Safety sectors, with a balanced gender representation.
South Australia has the lowest gender pay gap of 7% in May 2021 as compared to 8.5% in May 2020. The gender pay gap also decreased in ACT, Tasmania, New South Wales, and Western Australia during this period.
The Gender Pay Gap by the Industry as of May 2021
The labour market in Australia is highly gender-segregated. There are some female-dominant occupations and industries and similarly, some are male-dominant. According to a WGEA report, women dominate Health Care and Social and Education and Training Industries. On the other hand, man-dominated industries include Wholesale Trade, Manufacturing, Electricity, Gas and Water, and Waste Services and Mining.
The gender pay gap in Australia is the highest at 25.5% in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. Financial and Insurance Services (24.1%) and Health Care and Social Assistance (20.7%) come next. The lowest gender pay gap was in Public Administration and Safety at 7.3% and Other Services at 0.9%.
Female Entrepreneurship and Leadership Are Imperative for Achieving Equality
Companies must have equal men and women representation in executive and leadership positions. Leaders with their practices and values set the tone of the entire organization’s culture. Therefore, it would be more beneficial for women to have more leaders like them.
Female leadership in an organization is also significant as it sets an example for the future generation of girls to follow. Additionally, it can boost the morale and self-confidence of women that their efforts do get recognized if they work hard.
Women make wonderful leaders. The businesses by female entrepreneurs generate 10% more revenue over a 5 year period than those of by male ones. Female entrepreneurs bring economic stability and growth to the country. They not only inspire other women to start their businesses but also provide them with equal opportunities. Female entrepreneurship leads to more jobs for women which will also eventually reduce the gender pay gap.
Many studies have have concluded that women create a more safe work environment. They also consider the impact of their business decisions and benefits programs on the overall good of not only the diverse workforce but also the society. If each person could come up with decisions that celebrate every difference, the world could be a better place. As Michelle Obama said:
Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.