This week marked Equal Pay Day, which signifies the 60 extra days a woman must work to earn the same average annual salary as a man.
The national gender pay gap has risen 0.3 per cent over the last six months. It now sits at a rate of 14.1 per cent for full-time employees.
The ultimate goal is for the gap to be zero.
What does the 14.1 per cent gender pay gap equate to?
The weekly difference is $263.90.
The average Australian man working full time earns $1,872.90 per week whereas a woman earns just $1,609.
The gap differs between Australian states. Western Australia fares the worst, with a gap of 22.4 per cent or $471.70. There, Equal Pay Day isn’t until October 14.
South Australia has the smallest gap, at 7.4 per cent or $123.70. It reached Equal Pay Day on July 29.
Financy Director and Founder, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman says “WA has the biggest gap because it is a state dominated by the mining industry – a male-dominated workforce.”
Ms Hartge-Hazelman says “we need momentum, and not regression in the gender gaps in employment and wages, if we are to claw our way back from the disruptions of the pandemic.”
Unfortunately the Financy Women’s Index shows that it will take 23.4 years to close the gender pay gap.
It’s faring worse than in the March quarter when it was 22.7 years.
How is the gender pay gap defined?
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women in the workforce.
It does not refer to a man and woman being paid differently for the same job, which is illegal.
Equal pay however is the concept of men and women being paid the same for performing the same role or work of equal or comparable value, which has been a legal requirement since 1969.
The gender pay gap varies between industries.
In WA, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, the gap sits much higher than average at 25.3 per cent or $585.60.
The state’s gap is the lowest in mining at 16 per cent or $443.80 per week for full-time workers.
Hartge-Hazelman suggests the reason male-dominated industries pay more is because “as a society we have valued technical skills over soft skills.”
“Care and education for example, are so closely related to the unpaid care work that women have historically done and which has always been undervalued over the main breadwinner roles. This is a sad stereotype that needs more than policy to fix, it requires real behavioural change.”
She says traditionally more women take time out of the workforce to be the primary carers of children. When they return, commonly work part time initially. The sectors where women are more likely to work tend to have lower wages.
“To bridge the gender gap we need to improve wages in female dominated industries and support greater full-time work participation among women, particularly in key leadership positions. We also need to stamp out gender biases and discrimination in the workplace which can act as a barrier to women’s workforce progression.”
What are companies doing to close the gap?
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) director Mary Woolridge encourages employers to conduct a pay gap audit.
She has developed a plan to address the gap, set targets to promote gender equality at all levels, design part-time leadership roles and offer flexible working conditions to attract women and to introduce a gender neutral paid parental leave policy.
“On Equal Pay Day 2022, WGEA is encouraging employers to make gender equality a priority by implementing five achieveable key steps that will speed up the rate of change,” she says.
While the gender pay gap exists, women’s skills capabilities and potential are not being fully realised or valued.
Ms Woolridge added: “Further, while women are earning less, they’re spending the same on men on the essentials we all need to survive.
“A high inflation rate of 6.1 per cent is greatly increasing the cost of living, making daily essentials like fruit and vegetables, fuel, electricity and rent more and more expensive. The gender pay gap means many women now find it even harder to make ends meet.”
The University of NSW is amongst organisations to work towards gender equity. President and Vice Chancellor at UNSW, Ian Jacobs says that it started its 2025 strategy in 2015.
That year, there were no female deans but last year appointed the university third. It also has five diversity champions – for gender, culture, disability, LGBTIQ and flexible work and leave.
There’s a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. It has rolled out unconscious bias training to more than 300 senior leadership staff.
He said in a statement: “It is important that leaders continue to make a concerted effort to try to understand firstly why the gap exists, and secondly how those barriers might be addressed.
“There remain significant challenges when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.
“Of course, overcoming these challenges, especially those to do with culture and deep-seated unconscious bias – will take time.”
WGEA reports some fascinating statistics about how everyday spend between men and women is affected by the gender pay gap:
- Women spend two per cent of their salaries on heating, compared with men who only spend 1.7 per cent.
- Women spend 32 per cent of their salaries on rent compared with 27.5 per cent of a man’s income.
- Women spend 6.2 per cent of their salaries on fuel whereas men only spend 5.4 per cent of their salaries filling up their tank.
- Women spend 9.4 per cent of their salary on groceries, while men only spend 8.1 per cent of his income on food and other household essentials.