Australia’s national gender pay gap has dropped to 13.3 per cent, but women still earn $253.50 less per week than men, according to the latest data.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released figures based on weekly earning data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which shows that women earn, on average, 87 cents for every $1 earned by a man.
While the figures are heading in the right direction – the rate is the lowest on record and a return to statistics from three years ago when the gender pay gap was 13.4 per cent – there is still a lot of work to do.
As of November 2022, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations are $1,653.60. Australian men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings are $1,907.10.
With many Australians currently facing increased financial pressure thanks to rising inflation and the increasing cost of groceries, energy, fuel and housing, many are reporting high levels of anxiety, with women reporting much higher levels of financial stress than men.
Women ‘worse off’ each week compared to men
WGEA director Mary Wooldridge urged employers and employees to be mindful that the current gender pay gap only reflects the base salary for full-time workers, meaning it’s only a limited reflection of the true situation.
“The gender pay gap is a handbrake on women’s ability to make ends meet. With inflation at 7.8 per cent, and rising, everyday essentials are becoming increasingly unaffordable,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“Women are $253.50 worse off every single week as a result of their gender.
“Over the course of one year, the weekly difference of $253.50 adds up to $13,182. That’s income that could have gone towards meeting bills, mortgage repayments or additional contributions to superannuation funds for retirement.”
Anneli Blundell, author of The Gender Penalty, said the gender pay gap is a persistent example of the complexity of the battle for gender equity.
“On one hand, we hear many stories of companies closing their gender pay gap overnight, while others remain staunchly convinced it’s ‘not that simple’. Who’s right? From my perspective, we have enough examples of companies who have successfully closed the gap to be further along than we are.
“So, what will it take for organisations across our country to make this effort? The answer is ‘not that simple’, but one thing is for sure, the companies that wait too long to work it out, will definitely lose the war for talented women. And no company can afford to lose that battle in the current climate.”
Marian Baird, director of The Women, Work and Policy Research Group, said the gender pay gap is a key indicator of gender inequality at work.
“At 13.3 per cent, this year’s results show some very slight improvement in closing the gap between women’s and men’s wages, however over the past five years the gap is stuck in the 13-14 per cent range,” she said.
“But the ‘devil is in the detail’. The data by occupation and by state continue to show that areas where men tend to dominate have larger pay gaps in favour of men, and in areas where wages are set by collective arrangement the gap is smaller.”
Gender pay gap a reflection of how we value women in the workforce
Ms Wooldridge said gender pay gaps are a reflection of the way we value women’s and men’s contributions in the workforce.
“Employers who don’t make gender equality a priority will fail to attract and retain female talent and won’t benefit from the increased productivity, innovation and profitability that flows from embracing diversity in your workforce,” she said.
“We must not forget that today’s calculation is a limited reflection of the true gender pay gap because it doesn’t include bonuses, overtime payments or superannuation.”
Ms Wooldridge said the total remuneration gender pay gap is consistently 5 per cent greater than the gender pay gap for base salaries alone.
She said the current gender pay gap also doesn’t include the wages of part-time or casual workers, many of which are lower paid and also women.
“As a business leader, if you are aware that your organisation has a gender pay gap and you take no action to close it, you are effectively sending a message to women that the work they do is of less value than that of men.
“Employers and business leaders need to step up and take action to ensure the work of all their employees is valued and rewarded equitably.
“By closing Australia’s gender pay gap, we will improve the lives of Australian women, their families and communities and move closer towards the goal of being a world-leader in gender equality.”