Gender pay gap in Australia

Money May Not Have A Gender; But If You’re A Woman, You can Still Expect A Lot Less Of It

In 1893, New Zealand was the first Country to give women the right to vote. The suffrage movement finally had a win; and women’s voting rights, in developed countries, proceeded from that point.


From the Second World War onward, women started to enter the work force in large numbers. However, it was in the 1960’s, as the feminist movement took off, that women entered the workforce by choice rather than necessity.


In the early days, the roles for women remained gendered. Consequently, receptionists, nurses and teachers made up a substantial portion of the early roles women filled.


By the time I went to school, from 1992 to 2004, career choices and expectations were virtually the same for males and females. In fact, I think the army front-line was the last remaining gendered frontier, with front line service for women not being permitted until 2013 here in Australia.


Given this seeming equality, one could easily be excused for thinking that gender equality has been achieved in the workplace. However, is this really true? 


The Gender Pay Gap

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) collects annual data from agencies with 100 or more employees. WGEA collects data on pay, superannuation and bonuses/other additional payments.


WGEA calculates the annual gender pay gap, which is the difference between men’s and womens’ earnings, expressed as a percentage.


In the 2017-18 financial year, the base-salary gender pay gap was 16.2%. This means that women are earning an average of 16.2% less than men on base salary pay. However, once bonuses and other additional payments are factored in, the pay gap increases to 21.3%.


Why is there such a pay gap between men and women?

Women take long breaks from work to look after others and are more likely to be part-time

The percentage of men and women primary care givers in Australia in 2017 was 5% to 95%. This means that for every man who took primary parental leave, 19 women took primary parental leave to care for children.


As Women are the primary care givers to children, a lot of women return from maternity leave to part-time work. Given the cost of childcare, dropping to part-time paid work is usually the most economical approach to being a working parent.


Women are also the primary caregivers for elderly family members. When a parent gets sick or becomes incapacitated, it is generally a female who drops everything to take care of them. In doing so, their career gets put on hold and so does earning and progression potential.


Women literally still get paid less for the same jobs as men

Despite the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) requiring equal pay for equal work amongst the genders, bias and discrimination in hiring and pay decisions still exists.


The age old concept of not hiring women in case they have children and take maternity leave still exists. So does the misogynistic idea that women simply aren’t as good as men in the workplace, particularly in positions of power.


A few years back during a Queensland State election, a colleague of mine overheard a man in line at a local polling booth saying to his son “I cant wait to vote this bitch out of office and back into the kitchen, where she belongs”. This perception is held by a very small minority of people these days… But, nonetheless, it still exists and does impact workplace hiring, promotion and bonus negotiation processes.


Why does it matter?

Australian Women, on average, currently retire with 40% less superannuation than men. As a result, only 1 in 10 women are currently retiring with enough superannuation to afford a comfortable retirement.


This means that despite all the hard work that women put into their careers and raising children, 9 out of 10 of them may struggle with poverty in retirement.


Furthermore, women live an average of four years longer than men (85 vs 81 years). Therefore, women actually require more superannuation/savings than men, not less.


What can you do to improve your situation?

Demand higher pay

One of the best ways to improve your financial situation is to demand higher pay from your employer. If you believe you’re getting paid less for the same work as your male colleagues, set up a meeting with your boss to discuss the issue. Before you do this, be sure to do your research. Gather evidence that outlines the pay gap and why you deserve to be paid just as much as your coworkers. Then, wrap all of this up in a neat little package of how awesome you are and why it’s in your boss’ best interests to give you a raise.


Don’t believe you’ll have success, or need a little push? Check out this article for some inspiration!


Partner superannuation contributions

During maternity leave and other care-giving, arrange with your partner to contribute to your superannuation account during this period.


Not only will this help keep you both on an even superannuation trajectory, but partner contributions currently have a neat tax bonus. Partners who make a superannuation contribution of up to $3000 on behalf of their low income or non-working partners may be able to claim an 18% tax concession on the contributions.



Despite all the advances in gender equality, when it comes to pay, disparity still exists between men and women.


So, if you’re a man… Be an advocate for your partner, friend, sister and/or coworkers. Equal pay between the genders for equal work shouldn’t even be a question in the 21st Century. Additionally, if you plan to have children and your partner will be the primary caregiver, consider making superannuation contributions on your partner’s behalf during the period of care-giving… As outlined above, it’ll not only help your partner, but you may qualify for a neat 18% tax offset as a consequence.


And, if you’re a woman, stand up for yourself. Speak to your partner, boss and coworkers about any concerns you may have. Whether it be demanding equal pay for equal work or having your spouse contribute to your superannuation during time off work to raise kids; it’s time to close the gap!


Cheers, TFC.

Posted in Money Reflection and tagged , , , , .

The Flawed Consumer is a Gen Y consumer that is on a mission to achieve wealth simply by changing spending and lifestyle habits.

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