International Women’s Day brings the gender pay gap into the spotlight

As women the world over gather to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 their pay-packets are likely to come under the spotlight.

The US women’s national soccer team recently had reason to cheer. It reached a landmark settlement with its governing body, over equal pay.

In Australia, a national gender pay gap still exists, which means men earn more than women.

According to the latest data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the new national gender pay gap in Australia is 13.8%; a drop of 0.4 percentage points over the past six months from 14. 2%. That is a difference on average of $255 per week between the full-time earnings of women and men.

Data for the private sector pay gap shows it stands at 22.8%. That figure includes total remuneration of full-time, part-time, and casual workers; and on the top rungs on the career ladder, the view isn’t much better. Data shows less than one in five Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) or board chairs are women, and one in three are board members.

So men are twice as likely to be highly paid as women, earning in the top earnings quartile of $120,000 and above and women are 50% more likely than men to be in the bottom quartile, earning $60,000 or less.

There is some good news for women in the workforce in recent data. There’s been a sharp rise in the number of employers willing to offer paid parental leave. Three in five employers offer paid parental leave, although only 12 per cent of those who took it were men.

For the first time WGEA collected data on whether employers pay superannuation during periods of parental leave. Of the employers offering paid parental leave, 81% pay super for parents on paid leave; 74% pay super during the employer-funded parental leave and 7% on both employer-funded and government-funded parental leave.

More than half (51%) of employers now offer paid domestic violence leave. This is a significant improvement on the 12% of employers who offered it in 2015-16.

So what can women do to ensure the gender pay gap continues to shrink?

Keep asking for pay rises

The perception can be that women are on lower pay because they don’t ask for increases or negotiate. Not true, according to the WGEA. Data shows women are asking but are less likely than men to get the pay increases.

Check where your employer stands 

Gender pay gaps begin at the recruitment and promotion stage. To tackle the gender pay gap head-on check if your employer has undertaken a gender pay gap analysis and taken action on the findings.

In feminised industries such as healthcare and social assistance and education and training the gender pay gaps stand at 14.4% and 10.5% respectively. Yet these are the industries that are less likely to undertake gender pay gap audits (less than 30%) or take action (less than 40%).

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