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.
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.”
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.”