Australian women in the professional, scientific and technical services industry are paid 25.3 per cent less than men per week, or $570.90, new data highlighting the national pay gap has revealed.
Female workers in the financial and insurance services sector are paid 24.1 per cent less than their male counterparts, or $560 a week less, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) also reported.
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The new data highlighting the six industries with the largest gender pay gap was released on Tuesday to mark Equal Pay Day, and call for greater pay transparency and equality for male and female workers.
On average, women working full time across Australia earn $1,575.50 a week, while men earn $1,837 a week - a pay gap of 14.2 per cent.
The gender pay gap misconception
Equal pay for equal work was made law in 1969, and as such it is illegal for businesses to pay female workers less than male workers for doing the same job.
However, the WGEA’s analysis assesses the overall gender pay gap and is a reflection of women’s overall position in the paid workforce, and the value placed on work that is carried out by predominantly female workforces.
“No matter which data set is used, they all show a significant pay gap in favour of men. Awareness is the first step to action – and this is why this Equal Pay Day we’re calling on all Australians to ask the question: What’s your pay gap?” WGEA director Mary Wooldridge said.
“The impact of the gender pay gap on women’s lives is real and long-lasting. The data shows that, on average, women’s median super account balances are over 20 per cent lower than men’s. Consequently, women are more likely to retire with reduced economic security.”
Unions have reacted to the latest WGEA data with dismay, describing it as highlighting the “yawning gap” in pay between male and female workers.
“The pay gap has not only increased for finance workers, but we know that in banking, women are more likely to be working in front line customer facing retail branches and are also bearing the burden of working in an environment where they may be exposed to COVID-19 and take the virus home to their families,” Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O’Neil added that it was a “disgrace” that women are paid 14.2 per cent less, on average, and as such are making $13,500 less a year.
“Women in the workforce are met with so many obstacles; disproportionate caring responsibilities, sexual harassment in the workplace, and a systemic and persistent gender pay gap,” O’Neill said.
“Today we should all take a moment to acknowledge the fact that there are no industries in Australia where women are paid equally to men.”
Gender pay gap by state
The gender pay gap is biggest in mining-heavy Western Australia, where the average woman will receive a $443.30 smaller pay packet every week, or 21.9 per cent less than their male counterparts.
South Australia has the smallest pay gap, at 7 per cent or $112 a week.
Why Equal Pay day is on 31 August
Equal Pay Day falls on 31 August to mark the 61 extra days an Australian woman would have to work to earn the same amount as her male counterparts did in the last financial year.
While that’s an average, the period balloons out to 124 days for women in the professional, scientific and technical services sector, and 116 for women in the financial and insurance services sector.
“Equal Pay Day is a symbolic recognition that women’s potential is not being fully realised or valued and an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace,” the WGEA’s Wooldridge said.
“While nearly two months difference is too long, the real gender pay gap is even greater. This traditional calculation is based on the ABS’s ordinary full-time average weekly earnings.
“If we include average weekly earnings data on earnings for all hours worked, including overtime and part-time work, the pay gap more than doubles to 31.3 per cent.”
How long women in each industry need to work to earn the same as men
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