We need to keep talking about the gender pay gap


Thanks to the Matildas and the overwhelming success of the FIFA Women's World Cup everyone's once again talking about the gender pay gap in sport. The topic - often reserved for the financial pages and newsletters such as WOBs - is now kick-starting conversations everywhere - from breakfast talkback shows to local coffee shop catch-ups. 


While this is a goal to be celebrated, let’s not be complacent Australia. What’s happening on the pitch is being played out across the nation with many women missing out on income. We need to keep up the momentum and keep working towards closing the gender pay gap across all sectors.

That’s the message from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as Australia this week marks Equal Pay Day on 25 August - 56 days from the end of the financial year that women have to work to earn the same, on average, as men.

New ABS data shows Australian women are earning, on average, $13,120 less in their annual base salary, than men each year. So for every $1 men earn in Australia, women make 87 cents.

While the new national gender pay gap of 13% is a 0.3 percentage point decrease on figures released in February this year (a significant drop representing the lowest it has ever been) now is not the time for Australia to be resting on its laurels, according to WGEA CEO, Mary Wooldridge.

“As we celebrate the incredible performance by the Matildas and the fact their semi-final was the most watched TV event in Australian history, we are also energised by the lowest ever national gender pay gap,” Ms Wooldridge said. 

“This momentum is a springboard for renewed action for employers to prioritise gender equality and ensure that we continue to work towards closing the gender pay gap.” 

Why does it matter?

Let’s take a look at football again for a moment. While the Matildas have been pushing to close the football pay gap, they still don’t have equal pay, equal prize money or equal sponsorship.

Even before the World Cup started, the Matildas were making headlines over a video released by the team calling for equal prize money to be awarded to the men’s and women’s competition.

Few people realise that, for their stellar performance in 2023, the Matildas will still take home just a quarter of what the Socceroos and other men’s teams are paid.

Why does it matter that corporate networks are willing to pay many times more for the broadcast rights for men’s sport compared to women’s sport, asks Claire Braund.

It matters because it translates into the huge and unequitable gender pay discrepancy between male and female players in all of the big global sports, with the possible exception of tennis. In women’s sport, player salaries and prize money are lower – much lower. These, in turn are related to broadcast deals and the number of sponsors compared to the men’s tournaments.

The total $US152 million in prize money for the 2023 expanded FIFA tournament is US $122 million more than was shared by the 24 teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. It is US$288 million less than was given as prize money for the 2022 Men’s World Cup.

None of which makes sense when you consider that the Matildas’ epic shootout victory over France in the quarter final was the largest television sport event in at least a decade, with an estimated average audience in Australia during the game of 4.17 million.

As Christina Hobbs also comments in Women’s Agenda: Not for the first time, women are doing the hard yards and not being rewarded for it. 

WGEA LinkedIn Live event

In the lead up to Equal Pay Day WGEA is running a LinkedIn live event at 11am on 25 August to raise  awareness of the gender pay gap in Australia and highlight the importance of this missing income for Australian women.

Join WEGA CEO Mary Wooldridge as she walks through the meaning of Equal Pay Day and urges employers to take action to reduce their gender pay gap and demonstrate what’s missing matters.


Just the beginning: 7 ways the Women’s World Cup can move the dial on women’s sport forever

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