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Home > News > 2019 > August > The enduring gap in our workplaces

The enduring gap in our workplaces

Topics : Equity

ACTU_equal_pay_graphic.jpgToday, 28 August 2019, is Equal Pay Day. This date illustrates the enduring gap in Australian workplaces: the 59 additional days (from the end of the previous financial year) that women must work to earn the same amount as men earn in a year.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.0% for full-time employees; a difference of $241.50 per week.  

The fact that the national gender pay gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades is sad indictment on what our governments and employers consider as priorities.

What does the gender pay gap mean for women?

The gender pay gap is a symbol of women’s position in the workforce.

It is the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the entire Australian workforce and is the result of different social and economic factors that have a tremendous impact on how women and men live their lives. 

It reflects the fact that women’s work is traditionally undervalued, and women are often paid less than men.  

In fact, average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia.  

Women are also under-represented in senior executive and management roles and female dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male dominated ones.

Research shows that the main factors contributing to the gender pay gap are;

  • Discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions.
  • Women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages.
  • Women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work.
  • Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in leadership roles.
  • Women’s greater time out of the workplace impacting career progression and opportunities.

Time for change

Women currently make up 49% of Australian workplaces and more than 70% of education employees, and yet, there are still far too many challenges confronting women in the workplace.  

These challenges exist because the federal government has failed to take action on:

  • Implementing a living wage, failed to support people with caring responsibilities.
  • Addressing the inequality of superannuation payments.
  • Rectifying the inadequacies of the Fair Work Act.

Because of the Federal Government’s failure to act, women are adversely affected.  

Women are increasingly locked out of a secure retirement; women make up the majority of workers reliant on a minimum wage; women are more vulnerable to exploitative, casualised and insecure forms of work and due to deep rooted social norms; women face more disruptions over their working life by taking on the majority of the caring responsibilities for children, family members and/or aging parents.

On Equal Pay Day, IEU members call upon the federal government to stop short-changing women and start addressing gender inequality by:

  • Setting targets and timeframes to accelerate change.
  • Implementing measures which increase pay transparency.
  • Providing greater support for working parents and carers.  
  • Removing structural inequalities in the superannuation system. 

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.