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New findings show women earn less than men

22 August 2014

Shutterstock _old Lady

Recently released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics are its findings on the Gender Pay Gap.

The data indicates that the average man working full-time earns 18.2% or $283.20 more than the average full-time working woman.

Overall, women earn significantly less than men. The pay gap has a significant impact on women’s financial security over their lifetimes.

Take superannuation for example:   

According to a News item on The Entitlement of Age report released in August: “a woman retiring in 35 years who has children and has worked both full-time and part-time will have only 60 per cent of the superannuation balance of a man the same age.

“That is a difference of about $358,000.”

Westpac Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer, notes, “These sorts of statistics, including our research [2013 Women and Retirement Readiness Report] which shows women having to work 25 years more than men to achieve the same levels of superannuation, make me realise we all need to stand up and talk about the issue - equality. Women need to think strategically about career, their skills and financial remuneration. If we take responsibility for what is happening and exert our influence we can make change.

“One of the real positives we have uncovered in our recent Women of Influence Report is that men understand women face challenges in the workplace - often from unconscious bias. Let’s use this knowledge to make a difference.”

Workplace Gender Equality Agency CEO, Helen Conway, believes the national gender pay gap is a high-level figure influenced by many factors, including women and men doing different jobs and working in different industries.

“Unfortunately, the current data doesn’t clearly tell us why the gap has peaked at 18.2%, although the figures do show us that three of the five industries (mining, manufacturing and wholesale trade) that had above average wage growth in the past 12 months are heavily male-dominated.”

Helen goes on to point out that what is of particular concern is that at a time when we want to encourage more women into the workforce to boost productivity, “the gap is moving in the wrong direction”.

Equal pay for work of equal or comparable value is a principle enshrined in Australian law. In a skewed piece of logic, an anecdote making the rounds is that some people are considering employing women because they “cost less”. That would be discriminatory - and hopefully the story is just an urban myth.  

Says Helen: “Addressing pay equity at the employer level is a focus of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Employers generally don’t set out to pay women and men differently, and many are surprised to find pay gaps between women and men doing similar work when they do a gender pay gap analysis.

“We encourage employers to take the first step by examining payroll data to identify any gaps so that they can then take corrective actions where they are needed. In September, the Agency will make available a comprehensive suite of resources to guide employers through the process of conducting a gender pay gap analysis and creating an action plan to improve pay equity.”

Back in 2012 WGEA released its GradStats report, which revealed the average starting wage for men was $55,000, up from $52,000 previously. Women remained stagnant at $50,000.

According to WGEA, the results were "disturbing" - particularly given women make up the majority of graduates.

It seems the gender pay gap starts young and over a working life, it has more and more of an impact on the financial security of women.