Gender pay gap rise, inflation 'the perfect storm' for women


Employers are being urged to take immediate action to reduce the gender pay gap, with new figures showing women are now worse off than they were six months ago earning on average $264 a week less than men.


Australia’s new national gender pay gap is 14.1 per cent, an increase of 0.3 percentage points over the last 6 months, with women in WA faring the worst along with those working in the professional, scientific and technical services.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) analysis of the latest average weekly earnings data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that men are earning an average of $263.90 a week more than women.

To earn the same average annual salary earned by a man, women must work 60 more days after the end of the financial year, making this year’s national Equal Pay Day 29 August.

“Given that the 2021 Equal Pay Day was held on 31 August – 62 days after the end of the of the financial year, the results over the past six months are alarming,“ WOB Executive Director Claire Braund said.

“We are going backwards on gender pay at a time of rising costs and inflation, the wages share of national income at a record low and little appetite for reform.  It’s a perfect storm – and worse if you are female. We have known about this issue for years but it’s becoming a case of yet more hand-wringing and sorry platitudes than decisive action to solve the problem”

Ms Braund called for employers to step up, take the issue seriously and sort it out – particularly in sectors such as mining, gas and finance, which have been highly profitable in the past two decades.

  • The national gender pay gap is 14.1 per cent
  • This is a 0.3pp rise from the previous gender pay gap of 13.8 per cent
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1,609.00 while men working full-time earned $1,872.90
  • Full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $263.90

In a time of ballooning inflation, the WGEA is calling attention to the disproportionate effect this persistent pay gap has for Australian women as they juggle the increased costs of daily living.

“We are calling on employers to take immediate action to reduce the gender pay gap by conducting a pay gap audit,” said WGEA Mary Wooldridge.

She said the substantial difference in pay impacts Australian women’s financial freedom and ability to build their future financial independence and that today’s persistent gender pay gap outcome, in times of significantly increasing consumer prices, highlights the disproportionate impact that inflation has on Australian women.

“As a result of the gender pay gap, many Australian women have to work harder to make ends meet with very little room for discretionary spending or saving once they’ve covered the cost of daily essentials.”

She said fixing the gender pay gap requires leadership and commitment.

“We are calling on employers to take immediate action to reduce the gender pay gap by conducting a pay gap audit. This will give them a clear picture of what’s driving their pay gaps and the opportunities for improvement, that will benefit their employees and their business over time.”

WGEA calculated the gender pay gap in each state with WA recording the highest gender pay gap and South Australia the lowest.

The results also reveal every industry still has a significant gender pay gap with the highest in professional, scientific and technical services at 25.3 per cent, closely followed by health care and social assistance at 22.2 per cent.

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

The national gender pay gap measures the difference between the average weekly full-time base salary earnings of women and men, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.

Equal pay is the concept of women and men being paid the same 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. It is not the difference between two people being paid differently for the same or similar job, which is unlawful.

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

Gender pay gap (by State and Territory)

Industry gender pay gaps

READ MORE: Directors urged to take action over gender pay gap rise

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