Wage gap continues for working women
The ACTU’s recent Gender Pay Gap - Over the Life Cycle report has highlighted the extent of inequality still faced by women in the workforce, revealing that Australian women are now earning less on average in comparison to men than they were 20 years ago.
The report revealed that despite women making up 42% of the workforce, they currently earn 17.2% less than men - roughly $284.20 less per week – and that 70% of part-time work is undertaken by women.
For women, during their child bearing years (25-44), the report found they earn up to 40% less than men in the same age group, regardless of whether they have children, and that one in three (32%) mothers who is discriminated against in their current workplace will either look for another job or resign.
When it comes to retirement, the findings of the report revealed the stark contrast faced by women compared to men with the average superannuation balance for women at retirement being $138,150 compared with $292,500 for men.
Alarmingly, 60% of women aged between 65-69 years were found to have no superannuation at all and it is estimated that 38.7% of single women will retire in poverty.
The full ACTU report shows that women are in fact financially disadvantaged at every key stage of their life: in childhood, at the workplace, through pregnancy, motherhood and as a carer, and in retirement.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Rebecca Sisson said the report was a shameful reminder of inequality faced by working women in this country and the importance of maintaining concerted member action to create change.
“As we saw at the recent IEUA-QNT Women’s Conference, it has never been more important for all members, regardless of gender, to address the ongoing challenges faced by women in the workplace,” Ms Sisson said.
“The gender pay gap, inequitable caring responsibilities, inflexible working arrangements, inadequate paid parental leave, shortfalls in superannuation and the lack of female representation in positions of leadership – these are the issues that not only have to be acknowledged but must be addressed if we are to have true equity in the workplace.
“Our union already has a majority of women members, mirroring the gender representation of our industry, and therefore has an important role to play in changing the landscape for working women - as do employers and both the state and federal governments,” she said.
Ms Sisson echoed comments by ACTU President Ged Kearney calling on the federal government to address the inequality faced by working women in Australia and to stop attacking the working rights of new mothers and their families.
“As Keynote Speaker at our recent Women’s Conference Professor Marian Baird said, motherhood is a 'career game changer for women, financially and psychologically. There's a pay penalty on motherhood, while there's a pay premium on fatherhood'.
“This situation cannot continue, and our membes will maintain their efforts to ensure inequality is not the legacy we leave to future generations," Ms Sisson said.
The latest report provides a three year update of Australian women’s pay and conditions since the ACTU’s original Gender Pay Gap report was published in 2013.