Gender pay gap in Australia drops marginally

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has said the national gender pay gap decreased by 0.6 percentage points to 13.4% in the past six months.
By: | March 3, 2021

The figure is based on recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which showed that on average, men in Australia who work full-time earn more than their female counterparts by A$242.20 (US$188) per week. On average, men earn a full-time base salary of A$1,804.20 (US$1,399) per week, while that of women was $1,562.00 (US$1,211). 

WGEA director Libby Lyons said the narrowing of the gender pay gap was attributed mainly to volatility in the labour market and not due to improvements in structural changes for the female workforce. 

She said, “This result is, in part, due to an increase in the number of men in lower-paid full-time employment. After all the economic shocks and uncertainties, we lived through in 2020, it is very welcome news to have more people in full-time jobs.

“It does not, however, reflect any underlying structural changes to women’s overall position in the workforce. I expect to see more labour market volatility over the next 12-24 months as the nation settles into a new post-COVID-19 employment environment.” 

Lyons added that as the country recovers from the pandemic, men’s wages may increase while those of women may remain stagnant, resulting in an increase in gender pay gap. 

She argued that the business case for improving gender equality is compelling, with research and business outcomes showing it can improve performance, productivity and profitability. However, she noted that progress towards gender equality in Australian workplaces has stalled, and employers need to ensure gender equality remains a business priority. 

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“I urge all employers to pick up the pace and take action on pay equity to ensure the work of all female employees is fairly valued and rewarded, as is the case for men,” she said. 

The gender pay gap figure by WGEA is derived from the difference between average weekly full-time earnings of women and men, and is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It does not include the pay of men and women who are under-employed, or those who have their hours reduced or left the workforce all together, according to Women’s Agenda.