Greater gender balance across industries key to closing pay gap


Australia could reduce its gender pay gap by more than a third if all industries and occupations set and achieved a 40:40:20 gender diversity target.


That’s according to the latest Gender Equity Insights report from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Drawing on new WGEA data, voluntarily reported for the first time in 2020-21, the analysis finds Australia’s gender pay gap would fall from an estimated 23.3 per cent to 15.6 per cent if a 40:40:20 gender concentration – 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men and 20 per cent any gender – was achieved across all industries and occupations.

Women on Boards has been advocating for, since 2006, an increase in the number of women on boards and in leadership roles to achieve a 40:40:20 gender balance.

Using new 2020-21 business location data from WGEA, the report also found the gender pay gap differs significantly by location, with women likely to experience a "remoteness penalty". 

WA was found to have the largest gender pay gap, driven by the predominance of higher-paid men in the mining sector. Actioning a 40:40:20 target in WA would more than halve the gender pay gap in this state. 

Report author and BCEC Director and John Curtin Distinguished Professor, Alan Duncan, said the report created a better understanding of how the different concentrations of women and men working in individual states and across industry sectors affects the overall gender pay gap. The report also identifies actions to address it.

“To achieve a 40:40:20 gender concentration for industries in Australia, gender balance needs to be addressed in both directions. This means increasing the share of women working in male-dominated occupations and industries and growing the share of men in female-dominated professions,” Professor Duncan said. 

“We need to see an increase in the share of women in leadership positions from CEO through to executive manager, in roles in the professional, scientific, technical and trades sectors, and a rise in the share of men working in health, community and social services.

“We also need to reflect on whether the salaries paid to health care, social assistance and community sector workers adequately reflect the true value of their contribution to society.”

WGEA Director Mary Wooldridge said that visibility into the location and age data of employees for the first time provided a rich new data source for a deeper analysis of, and insights into, the drivers of the gender pay gap across the country.

“What we can see with this analysis is that without clear and actionable gender strategies and targets for improvement, progress on gender equality will stall,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“Employers who reimagine traditionally gendered roles are reaping the benefits of larger and more diverse recruitment pools, improvements in productivity and profitability and reductions in the gender pay gap.

“Further, Australia has one of the most highly gender-segregated industrial structures in the developed world. We need to actively challenge gender stereotypes, including those that start informing our children from an early age, to realise improved gender balance across industries and occupations.”

Read the full report HERE


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