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A New Report Has Proven That Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Is Only Getting Worse For Women

Here's why.

Women have always fought to earn as much as their male counterparts. But while women would like to believe that the pay gap has decreased in recent years, it turns out, that the gap is just as harrowing as ever.

Generally, Australia’s gender pay gap is approximately $40,000 for people aged between 45 and 65. And for women in senior roles, they currently take home $100,000 less than males.

In a national analysis of the gender pay gap by the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the report’s data shows that said pay gap will grow wider with women predicted to continue earning significantly less than men, in every age group.

The report, titled ‘Wages and Ages: Mapping the Gender Pay Gap by Age’, explained how the gap begins to noticeably widen once women turn 35 years old—reporting that they will earn only $7.78 for every $10 earned by a man. And over the next 20 years, the gap becomes even worse, only slightly narrowing once women reach 65 years old.

If these numbers continue, millennial women will be earning only 70 per cent of their male counterpart’s wages by the time they reach 45 years of age, per Sydney Morning Herald.

The agency’s director, Mary Wooldridge, explained that the widening of the gap is due to a number of reasons. For industries predominantly made up of women, such as care and education, most of the jobs in those sectors are low-paying. However, that only answers about 20 per cent of the problem, according to the report.

The largest contributions to the pay gap were noted as discrimination and inability to work full time, reporting that many women need to spend significant time caring for their children and loved ones. According to Wooldridge, the reasons for that could be that shorter hours suit some women who prefer to earn a living and care for their families, while others are simply left with no alternative.

“In many instances, it’s not a genuine choice,” she said, as per SMH. “They’re constrained because an organisation may not be prepared for them to work part-time and return to the workforce, or they may not be able to access childcare and can’t exercise the choice to return to work.”

“What we’re saying is in order to be able to utilise the talents of women, we need to provide as much support as possible for them return to work flexibly … and to genuinely think about part-time roles in senior management.”

Gender Pay Gap
Now, the former Victorian Liberal MP and women’s minister is demanding that Australian companies take on gender-based targets and share their data publicly to lessen the divide.

“Companies do need to analyse where the pay gaps are, they need to be setting targets to address them and they need to be consistently seeing how they’re performing and reporting to their boards about that,” she said, as per SMH.

“That’s how things change within organisations and that will be a better outcome for the men who work there and for the organisation as well.”

According to the Fair Work Commission, they’ve shared their decision to raise the national minimum wage by 5.2 per cent, which will hopefully benefit lower paying jobs that many women work in. But according to data provided by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women will never be able to out-earn their male counterparts no matter their age, given that the gap is at its widest during women’s highest earning periods in their careers.

For women who get their hands on a chief executive role by the age of 55, they still face a large gap in their earnings and take home approximately $93,000 less per year compared to their male counterparts.

Wooldridge clarified that certain employment options, such as job-sharing, are integral to making sure that women are given the opportunity and consideration to be promoted to senior roles. And this concept was among many policies that need improvement to shorten the gap, which also included gender-neutral paid parental leave and offering affordable childcare options, either through onsite services or financial support.

Finally, she also asked companies to watch out for a “bias towards presenteeism”, meaning that job promotions should go towards those working in-person in an office, which is predominantly women.

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