What is the gender pay gap?
The gender pay gap is the difference in men’s and women’s earnings. On average and in the majority of industries, women earn less than men. As of November 2016, Tasmanian women earned $1,238.60 per week (based on average weekly earnings for full time adults). In contrast to this, Tasmanian men earned an average of $1,401.00 per week. This is a difference of $162.40 per week.
This difference in pay impacts the economic security of Tasmanian women throughout their life. It is quite an alarming story – but there are practical steps you can take to combat this problem. Keep reading for all the facts you need.
- In the first year after graduating university, Australian women earn 9.4 per cent less than men. This means, that if the average male graduate earns $50 000 per annum (pa) in his first year out of university, a female graduate would earn $45 300 pa. This would be a pay gap of $4 700 pa.
- 90 per cent of women will have inadequate savings to fund their retirement by the time they exit the labor force.
- On average, women retire with around half as much superannuation as men.
Are these comparisons based on people who have the same skills and qualifications?
If we take a closer look at these statistics and consider variables such as which course was studied, employment experience and personal characteristics (such as language background or disability status); female graduates still earn 4.4 per cent less than their equivalent male counterparts in their first year after graduating university. This means in a situation where a man and a woman graduate from the same course and apply for similar jobs, if the man receives $50,000 in his first year, the woman would receive $47,800. That is a gap of $2,200.
Think about how this difference of $2,200 could snowball when you consider the additional barriers that occur at each stage of a woman’s life, such as:
- interrupted work patterns, particularly following the birth of a child or caring for family members (women are more likely to be the sole carer of children and carers of people with disability, long-term illness or problems related to old age);
- women being less likely to gain promotions and hold higher paying senior/leadership position which can be impacted by barriers such as discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying; and
- industrial and occupational segregation, with female-dominated professions traditionally having lower wages than male-dominated professions
Hmm so it’s clear that there’s a problem…but it’s getting better, right?
Wrong! The gender pay gap has actually grown and on average, women are earning less compared to men now, than they were 20 years ago.
In 2006, Australia was ranked 12th in the Global Gender Gap Index when comparing the economic participation and opportunity for women. This declined to 42nd in 2016.
To see how we compare to other countries visit the World Economic Forum Website at http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2016/economies/#economy=AUS
Let’s do something about it…
There are a number of ways that women and men can fight this inequality:
- Find out if you’re being paid fairly – there are a number of sites that can help you to compare salaries such as the Fair Work Ombudsman, Indeed, and PayScale.
- Develop your negotiation skills – don’t be afraid to talk about your salary with your boss. This can seem intimidating so it’s important to know what your skills and talents are worth and how they contribute to positive outcomes for the company or organisation.
- Be informed when it comes to superannuation – to better understand super and your options, check Women and Superannuation, or the MoneySmart Superannuation page
- Stay informed on relevant policies and legislation, and speak out– keep up to date on what is relevant to you and speak out against the gap. This could include family leave entitlements, childcare affordability and wage gaps. Make your voice heard.
- Know your options and make decisions based on what suits you – women are much more likely than men to take time off to care for children or elderly relatives – is this what you want? Consider how your superannuation can be impacted and explore your options when it comes to working from home, working part-time and investing in childcare.
Where can I go for more information?
Some YouTube clips to get you thinking…
Sam and Steve - an Equal Pay Story
Visit a website
Australian Fair Work Ombudsman
Department of Premier and Cabinet: Women, work and finance
Economic Security4Women : Pay equity
Equal Pay Day
Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Read a report
Australian Council of Trade Unions - The Gender Pay Gap: Over the life cycle
Industry Super Australia Inquiry into economic security for women in retirement
National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling 2009 Report on The impact of a sustained gender wage gap on the Australian economy
Research and papers by The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited
WGEA Gender pay gap statistics
See the statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, November 2015
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, May 2014
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Gender Indicators, Australia, February 2016
Graduate Careers Australia’s annual Australian Graduate Survey GradStats
World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap