Gender Pay Gap: the COVID unknown


The national gender pay gap remains officially at 14%, but is yet to reflect the full impact of COVID 19 on the workforce - and women in particular.


Marking 2020 Equal Pay Day, founder of Women on Boards, Ruth Medd and Claire Braund, said the disparity in take home pay between men and women remains a major economic and social issue for Australia to address.

"A full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men of $253.60 adds up to hundreds of thousands over a working lifetime and has a well-documented detrimental impact on superannuation and retirement savings for women."

Medd and Braund pointed out that as the 2020 gender pay gap is measured at the end of May, the full gendered impact of COVID 19 has not yet been realised - and is potentially frightening for women.

As Libby Lyons, Executive Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, tells us; "Data would suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected women and men differently. More Australian women than men have lost their jobs since COVID-19 struck. A number of female-dominated industries have suffered the worst of the job losses. All the evidence we have suggests that COVID 19 is seriously jeopardising women’s long-term economic and financial security and workforce participation"

"During the global pandemic, it is important that employers continue to focus on gender pay equity in their organisations. The COVID 19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and could affect women's long-term economic security and rates of workforce participation," Braund and Medd said.

Gender Pay Gap measured by State

Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency

What is the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay?

Equal pay is the concept of women and men receiving the same pay for performing the same role or different work of equal or comparable value. In Australia, this has been a legal requirement since 1969.

The gender pay gap is different to equal pay. It measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce.

When we talk about the gender pay gap, we are talking about the difference between the pay of women and men, on average, across organisations, industries, and the workforce as a whole.

Research shows the main factors contributing to the gender pay gap are:

  • discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
  • women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries attracting lower wages 
  • women's disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
  • lack of workforce flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles 
  • women's greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities

2020 Key Facts

  • The national gender pay gap is 14%. 
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1,558.40 while men working full-time earned $1,812.00.
  • Full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $253.60.
Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency
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