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Gender Pay Gap Narrows Year On Year

19 August 2016 at 4:30 pm
Wendy Williams
The gender pay gap in Australia has narrowed slightly year on year, according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Wendy Williams | 19 August 2016 at 4:30 pm


Gender Pay Gap Narrows Year On Year
19 August 2016 at 4:30 pm

The gender pay gap in Australia has narrowed slightly year on year, according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Man and woman back to back

Figures released on Thursday show the average weekly earnings gender pay gap for full-time employees has narrowed to 16.2 per cent, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points from a year ago.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, which calculates the national gender pay gap using the ABS Full-Time Adult Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings Trend data, revealed, on average, men working full-time earned $1,613.60 while women earned $1,352.50, a difference of $261.10 per week.

Minister for Women Senator Michaelia Cash said while the new data was “encouraging” the gap remained too high.

She stressed the government’s focus on implementing policies to further reduce the “stubbornly high gap” was unwavering.

“Given that less than two years ago the gender pay gap was 18.5 per cent, these figures demonstrate significant progress,” Cash said.

“In the month of July, the level of employment for women rose by 8,100 and is now at a record high of over 5.5 million. Furthermore, the participation rate for women has also trended upwards over the last 12 months.

“Despite the positive data, the gender pay gap remains too high. The government is getting on with the job of implementing a policy agenda to deliver greater female workforce participation and importantly, encourage participation in male-dominated industries which are traditionally higher paying jobs.”

Gender pay gap graph

Between May 2015 and May 2016, women’s weekly earnings grew by 3.4 per cent while men’s weekly earnings grew by 1.3 per cent.

When compared to May 1995, the gender pay gap has decreased by less than one percentage point (-0.3 pp).  

Over this 21-year period the gender pay gap was lowest in November 2004, at 14.9 per cent.

According to the WGEA, while a number of factors contribute to changes in the gender pay gap, including changes in government policy, no causal links have been found to adequately explain the 2004 dip in the gender pay gap or its subsequent steep rise.

The latest data revealed the gender pay gap in the public sector was considerably lower than in the private sector.

When looking at the gender pay gap by industry, the gap was lowest in public administration and safety, with a difference of 7.1 per cent. At the other end of the scale, there was a gap of 30.2 per cent in the financial and insurance services.

In geography terms, Western Australia had the widest gender pay gap in May 2016 (23.9 per cent). While the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest gender pay gap in May 2016 (10.7 per cent), replacing South Australia which formerly had the lowest gender pay gap in May 2015.

More than one in four agency reporting organisations conducted a gender pay gap analysis (26.3 per cent). Of these more than half (50.7 per cent) took action to address their gender pay gap.

Cash said it was clear from these latest figures that employers were taking action and this effort was producing results.

“To see these encouraging results continue we all need to maintain our attention on improving gender equality and that applies to government, employers and individuals – ensuring we achieve true gender equality will require a concerted and lasting commitment from everyone.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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