Australia’s gender pay gap has increased over the past six months, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with women now, on average, subject to a 14.1% salary variation, up 0.3 points.
The pay deviation means full-time working women earn AU$253.60 per week less than their male counterparts.
Leading Australian super fund, Aware Super, revealed the gap equates to an individual average retirement savings deficit of $136,000. Australian women, as a cohort, are projected to lose $684 billion in superannuation contributions in the 168 years needed for East Asia and the Pacific to achieve gender equality.
"When Australian women are being paid less for the same roles than men, this lower wage means a lower starting point, that leaves them with a smaller retirement income to live on,” the company explained in a post to honour Aug. 29, Equal Pay Day in Australia. “We are calling for urgent action from employers across Australia to find a practical solution to tackle the societal hurdles underpinning the issue.”
Equal Pay Day is recognised on Aug. 29 because it marks the 60 extra days required after the end of the financial year that women must work to earn an equal annual salary to men. Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) spearheaded calls for change by using the day to urge all employers to adopt five measures in their respective workplaces.
These steps include establishing audits and targets, promoting women to leadership and normalising flexible work.
All employers should likewise pursue a “robust” gender-neutral paid parental leave policy, according to the agency.
"A high inflation rate of 6.1% is greatly increasing the cost of living, making daily essentials like fruit and vegetables, fuel, electricity and rent more and more expensive,” Mary Wooldridge, WGEA director and chair of the Global Citizen Australia Board of Directors, said in a statement. “The gender pay gap means many women now find it even harder to make ends meet.”
The national gender pay gap refers to the difference between the average weekly full-time base salary between women and men across the workforce as a whole, described as a percentage of men’s earnings. Despite the often-held myth, it does not compare identical positions.
Paying men and women the same for identical roles has been law in Australia since 1969.
Progress to close the gap has long been hindered by systemic sexism that has seen women overlooked for senior executive roles. This sexism is underpinned by unconscious discrimination, cultural norms, and a lack of workplace flexibility for women who are much more likely to take on caretaker, unpaid and domestic work.