Gender Pay Gap Hits Record High

The national gender pay gap is getting wider and wider, hitting a record high of 18.8 per cent in February.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, men now earn almost $300 more per week than women, representing the biggest gender pay gap since the ABS began collecting the data in 1994.

The closest gap was 15 per cent in 2005, so this latest reading really stands out.

Across all industries, the average weekly full-time earnings of men were $1,587.50, while women were about $298 worse off.

The widest gap is in finance and insurance, with women today earning the same amount as their male colleagues were earning a decade ago. Today, men working full-time in those industries take home $2005 each week, while women working the same hours take home $1411.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8, the Diversity Council of Australia looked at how far women have come in the last thirty years.

While overall, more women are participating in paid work, women are better educated and are slowly reaching positions of leadership in business, there are some areas lacking in equality.

Women’s underemployment has doubled, the gender pay gap has increased, and women are increasingly relegated to part time work.



Pic: The Diversity Council of Australia. 

Lisa Annese, the Diversity Council’s CEO said “the recent increases in the gender pay gap have been widely reported, but the fact that underemployment rates for women have also grown so much is disappointing. Clearly there are still some major barriers to Australian women fully participating in paid work.”

“It is also surprising to see more women working part time. It’s obviously not getting any easier to combine full time work with having children. Major barriers continue to be limited access to quality, well paid and flexible work, as well as a lack of affordable and flexible childcare.”

Here’s the situation.

The 1980s vs. Today

Workforce participation rate: In 1985 it was 45.8 per cent, now it’s 58.6 per cent.

Part-time work: In 1985, 36.6 per cent of employed women were working part time, now it’s 46.6 per cent.

Underemployment: The underemployment rate for women in 1985 was 5.3 per cent, now it’s 11.2 per cent.

Gender pay gap: In 1985 female graduates earned an average of 95.7 per cent of male graduate starting salaries, now female graduates earn an average of 93.8 per cent of male graduate earnings.

Educational attainment: In 1985, only 52 per cent of girls completed year 12 and only 5 per cent of women had a degree. Now, 82 per cent of women aged 20-24 have year 12 qualifications and 31 per cent have obtained a Bachelor Degree or higher qualification.

Dual Earner households: In 1986, 49 per cent of families with dependents had both parents employed, now 62 per cent of families have both parents employed.

Occupations: In 1985 only 3 per cent of women described their occupation as ‘administrative, executive, managerial’, now 19.4 per cent of directors in the ASX 200 are women and 10 per cent of employed women described their occupation as ‘managerial’.



Pic: The Diversity Council of Australia. 


Main image: Nick@ via Flickr.