Gender pay gap = less super

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has released its latest gender equality scorecard, finding that Australian women are paid approximately 23% less than men.

It’s a bit like ground hog day, with the news that the gender pay gap in Australia is approximately 23%. Specifically, women make up half of the nation’s workforce but earn only 77 per cent of men’s average full-time income, according to the latest gender equality scorecard.

The new data shows the average full-time female employee took home $26,853 less than the average male employee in 2015-16, with the salary difference rising to $93,884 at the top level of management.

Women are also under-represented in leadership roles: holding just 16.3 per cent of CEO and 37.4 per cent of all manager roles.

However, the scorecard shows improvement in key gender equality indicators with lower pay gaps, greater movement of women into management roles and increased action from employers to address gender equality.

WGEA Director Libby Lyons said the data highlighted persistent inequality, as well as progress.

“The data confirms gender pay gaps in favour of men in every industry and the under-representation of women in management and leadership roles,” Ms Lyons said.

“At the same time, it shows employers are stepping up to the challenge in greater numbers with proactive gender equality policies. For the first time, more than 70 per cent of employers reported they have policies in place to support gender equality.

“There’s no question we are seeing movement in the right direction, but it’s still too slow. The Agency will continue to work with employers to help them drive better workplace gender equality across their organisations.”

The gender pay gap differs significantly from industry to industry, with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) advising that the financial and nsurance service sector has the highest gender pay gap at 33.5 per cent, while the education and training sector had the lowest quoted pay gap, a “just” 9.4 per cent.

Gender pay gaps in various industries

Of all sectors quoted, there was not a single sector where the average earnings of women were higher than men. Sector by sector, the gender pay gap is as follows.

Sector Percentage
Accommodation and food services 11.4%
Administrative and support services 14.8%
Arts and recreation services 21.1%
Construction 28.0%
Education and training 9.4%
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 20.0%
Financial and insurance services 33.5%
Health care and social assistance 14.7%
Information media and telecommunications 23.5%
Manufacturing 14.2%
Mining 15.8%
Other services 14.8%
Professional, scientific and technical services 27.5%
Public administration and safety 10.5%
Rental, hiring and real estate services 29.3%
Retail trade 16.2%
Transport, postal and warehousing 21.9%
Wholesale trade 10.0%

Gender pay gaps are calculated on full-time employees only, excluding CEOs and managers who report to someone overseas who is more senior than the CEO. Source: WGEA

Impact of gender pay gap on future wealth

While the gender pay gap is unacceptable in the here and now, its impact is magnified in terms of the retirement nest egg that women and men can expect to have at retirement

There are a number of reasons why women are disadvantaged in retirement, including:

The way that superannuation is calculated: As superannuation entitlements are a minimum of 9.5% of ordinary time earnings, the less you earn the less that 9.5% represents.

Interrupted working life: More women than men are still the primary carers of children. Fragmented patterns of paid work, including large amounts of unpaid leave and perhaps some years of part-time work, significantly impact the final value of superannuation.

Longer life expectancy + shorter working life: Women typically retire earlier than men and live longer – up to 4.4 years longer for a female born today. This increases the risk that superannuation savngs will run out earlier.

In a wealthy country like Australia, no woman who has spent her life working and caring for others should have to retire in poverty!


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