What would you do with $27,000? Buy a car? Pay off student loans, or go back to school? Maybe put a down payment on a house?
For half of Australia’s population, all those things can be possible. But new research released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows working women will have to wait a little longer. The agency’s second annual report on gender equality reveals the average disparity between salaries for men and women doing the same work is $27,000 for full-time total remuneration. The data covers 2014-2015, and includes contributions from 4 million employees and more than 12,000 employers.
The gender pay gap sits tight at 19.1 per cent for full-time base salary, and 24 per cent for full-time total remuneration, which factors in bonuses and superannuation. Although these numbers are averaged across industries, business types and employment levels, they show a frustrating level of stagnation – we are doing 0.7 per cent better than this time last year.
Additionally, the data also reveals the state of female leadership. Women compose 36.5 per cent of managers overall. If you break it down, though, only 15.4 per cent of women reach the upper echelons of management as CEOs or heads of business. Lower-level managers have the highest number of female representation at 40 per cent; senior managers are 33 per cent women; and other executives and key management personnel sit at 29.3 per cent and 27.4 per cent respectively. A quarter of organisations surveyed have no female key management personnel.
“It is eye-opening to see the scale of the gender equality challenge,” says Libby Lyons, WGEA director. “The data provides insights into where action is needed and a yardstick against which we can track progress.”
Not surprisingly, some sectors have higher levels of disparity than others. Financial and insurance services top the list at 35 per cent, followed by real estate (28.4%), scientific and technical services (27.3%), construction (26.3%), and information media and telecommunications (23.3%). It seems no industry is exempt, though – even the lowest pay gap is 8.7 per cent for public administration and safety employees.
However, not all the findings were negative. The data reveals encouraging levels of progressive action in support of equality.
For example, 20.6 per cent of businesses now have a gender equality strategy, compared to 18.3 per cent last year. More businesses are also tackling issues that contribute to gender inequality in a broader sense: 34.9 per cent of participant organisations have a domestic violence policy or strategy in place, 26.3 per cent conducted a gender pay gap analysis and 60.2 per cent have implemented a flexible work policy or strategy.
“While the national data gives us a snapshot of what’s happening around Australia, it’s up to each organisation to take action to build inclusive, diverse and successful businesses,” Lyons says. “Understanding their own performance on gender equality is an essential first step.”