Women in Australia earn 23% less than men – a more challenging environment to wealth build on their own merit.
According to data collected by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) - a statutory government agency charged with promoting workplace equality , full-time female employees take home, on average, nearly $27,000 less than their male colleagues and the gender pay gap is a major issue. Although employment figures are high compared to other OECD countries, the gap between male and female employment remains and more work needs to be done in guaranteeing Australian women have the same access to work opportunity as men.
Data collected covered 12,000 employers and 4,000,000 employees and showed the average full-time female employee took home $26,853 less than the average male employee in 2015-16.
The disparity gets worse at the top level of management, with the salary difference rising to $93,884 – difficult to understand why we are still talking about a ‘pay gap’ in 2016.
WGEA director Libby Lyons said recent research showed the main reason the gender pay gap was "bias and discrimination". Fortunately, there are some positive signs on the horizon with more recent data showing that the gender pay gap has narrowed 1.6 percentage points to 23.1 per cent possibly due to the fact that organisations are recognising that this is a problem, that it is not fair that women are paid less than men and they are actually taking their own action to do a gender pay gap analysis, and to sort the problem out at a localised level in their own workplaces. Ms Lyons said "This year, for the first time, our data shows that over 70 per cent of employers have policies in place to improve gender equality." In a recent study WGEA director Helen Conway said the results of the Gender Equality Scorecard were "ground-breaking" and proved gender equality needed to become a priority.
A glass ceiling was evident at the first layer of management where women comprised 39.8 per cent of employees, but the number fell to 31.7 per cent at the next level of management – senior managers.
From the senior management level, female representation steadily declined with women comprising 27.8 per cent of executive and general manager roles in Australia, and 26.1 per cent of key management personnel (KMP) positions.
At the top management level, chief executive, women held 17.3 per cent of positions.
One-third (33.5 per cent) of employers had no KMPs who were women, and 31.3 per cent of organisations had no other executives or general managers who were women.
"There are significant cultural and structural barriers in workplaces that stop women from moving up," Ms Conway said. "One of the main cultural barriers is gender bias."
Ms Conway said there was a belief new mothers should be able to do some work but it was often not career-advancing work. "Often women come back from parental leave and there is an assumption made that they won't want career-advancement work, that their only priority are family priorities," she said, however, this should not be an assumption.
Many woman are career driven and if not for being held back by their gender would succeed to wealth build and hold their own alongside their male counterparts.