National gender pay gap at 17.1 per cent
NEW figures released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that, on average, full-time working women’s earnings are 17.1 per cent less per week than full-time working men’s earnings (a difference that equates to $262.50 per week).
This gap in male and female earnings has decreased slightly since the last set of ABS figures were released in August 2013, when the gap was 17.5 per cent.
Women’s earnings have increased at a slightly higher rate than men’s over the past 12 months: 3.5 per cent compared to 3 per cent.
The national gender pay gap has hovered between 15-18 per cent for around two decades and is influenced by a variety of factors including industrial and occupational segregation, a lack of women in leadership, the fact that women still do most of society’s unpaid caring, a lack of senior part-time and flexible roles (which disadvantages women who are more likely to work part-time or flexibly), and direct or indirect discrimination.
“This persistent pay gap is both concerning and frustrating. And sadly, there is a pay gap in favour of men in every single industry,” said Helen Conway, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency ( WGEA).
“Some of the highest gender pay gaps are found in female dominated industries including health care and social assistance and finance and insurance services,” Ms Conway said.
However, Ms Conway said she is pleased that there is evidence that employers are taking steps to ensure that they are paying their staff fairly.
In a WGEA survey conducted last year (2594 respondents) one third of respondents said they had conducted a gender pay gap analysis and a quarter of organisations have undertaken an analysis in the previous 12 months.
One in two organisations said they had plans to conduct a gender pay gap analysis in the coming 12 months.
“It’s fair to assume employers don’t deliberately set out to discriminate between women and men, but many organisations simply don’t realise they have a gender pay gap,” Ms Conway said.
“I say to organisations who think pay equity isn’t an issue for them, ‘how do you know?’.
“Unless you’ve analysed your payroll data, any assertion that you don’t have a problem is uninformed.”