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These are the three things driving the gender pay gap

23 August 2019 at 4:14 pm
Maggie Coggan
In Australia, the gender pay gap is equivalent to $23 billion a year, or $445 million each week, and according to new research there are three main things driving it. So what can be done? We take a look.  

Maggie Coggan | 23 August 2019 at 4:14 pm


These are the three things driving the gender pay gap
23 August 2019 at 4:14 pm

In Australia, the gender pay gap is equivalent to $23 billion a year, or $445 million each week, and according to new research there are three main things driving it. So what can be done? We take a look.  

Gender discrimination

The study, conducted for Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, found gender discrimination is the main reason women get paid less.  

Lisa Annese, CEO of DCA, says discrimination is mainly perpetuated through perceived societal roles of men and women. 

“In the workplace, it seeps into our decision making and our biases around hiring and providing access to education and training,” she explains.  

“It means that people might make assumptions about a woman in her 20s becoming pregnant at some point.”   

Workforce interruptions

Taking time off work to raise kids, working part time, and doing the lion’s share of unpaid domestic work means women have less time to develop their professional skills, have less time to spend at work, and have less chance of being promoted. 

Lisa says workplaces adopting a universal approach to parental leave, embracing flexible working arrangements, and challenging the idea that all the housework should fall on women, would make a huge difference.   

“Firstly, we need to challenge ideas that the vast majority of caring responsibilities and housework should fall to women,” she says. 

“It would mean when women take flexible work their careers don’t get sidelined for a decade.” 

Women are still constrained to lower paying jobs   

Women are still overrepresented in roles and industries on the lower end of the pay spectrum such as child care, nursing and teaching. In executive and managerial roles, they are very underrepresented. This contributes to 17 per cent of the gender pay gap.     

Setting gender targets, quotas, and diversity policies could all counter this, as well as promoting inclusive recruitment strategies.  

“There are so many ways in which organisations can take active steps to reduce some components of the gap,” Lisa says.      

“If we are successful in doing this, we can create benefits not just for women, but the Australian economy as a whole.”

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Terry_Valentine says:

    Unfortunately the report looks at the issues through a myopic lens. While the basic premise of a gender pay gap exists and the overarching causes labelled, conclusions and actions are somewhat misrepresented and misguided.
    Caused by career breaks – I recall decades ago reading a Harvard Business Review study that showed that when men took breaks from their career they suffer the same career setback as women. These career breaks are a choice for both men and women and perhaps an emphasis on development of paternity leave and sharing the career breaks is a logical step forward. – Maybe it was covered in full report but not in your article.
    Occupation and industry segregation – or caused by choosing lower paid and part time work streams – Again this is a choice and many women over the decades and government programs are now choosing work in what was male dominated sectors such as Engineering with great success. We do not see the same government departments (one photo I saw showed over 96% women) breaking down the same gender walls in the area of childcare or primary school teaching. When you read stories that match first hand accounts of MOTHERS rejecting male child care workers as “they must be a pedophile” and threatening to withdraw tier children from childcare should the centre not remove that male it has resulted in what is effectively male eradication from the “caring professions”. Those in charge of equality in the workplace appear to be myopic in their view and biassed in their choice of industries to target.
    Hourly wage gap is best described as misleading and deceptive – I know people in disability services and the men get paid an identical award wage to their female counterparts. To do so is illegal. To choose to compare a senior company consultant in many areas with part time child care staff is misleading.

    Probono and Maggie has done themselves and its readers a tremendous disservice with articles like this!

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