Calls for pay audits as gender pay gap widens

by 08 Sep 2009

The gender pay gap has reached its highest level since the mid 1990s, with women earning on average 17 per cent less than men. In WA female earnings are on average 26 per cent lower than male earnings.

However, although 96 per cent of the business community believes that action must be taken to close the gap between men and women’s earnings, less than half of all organisations reporting to EOWA conduct a gender pay equity analysis.

According to the research released by the EOWA, it would now take women an extra 63 days to earn the same as a man earned over a year.

“It is simply unacceptable that women are working the equivalent of 14 months to earn the same that a man would make in a year,” said WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson.

Women in Western Australia earn on average $378 per week less than men. Although many say this is attributable to the mining industry, Henderson said this was not true.

“The gap is able to be demonstrated across many sectors. For example, in the health sector, the gap is a whopping 41 per cent,” she said.

Maire Steele, acting EOWA director, said there was no excuse for this widening gap and it is up to business and employers to change this trend.

“Even after you allow for differences in qualifications, length of service and full-time or part-time hours, there is an unexplained gap in earnings,” said Steele. “Why are women paid less the moment they step into the workforce?”

The commission has called on the Federal Government to introduce mandatory audits of pay rates.

“The onus should be on employers to ensure pay equity is enshrined in their workplaces,” said Henderson. “The Government needs to require employers to perform audits on the pay of their male and female employees and to report on what action they are taking to reduce the gap.”

Gradstats figures show that female graduates on average earn $2000 less per annum than male graduates when they first start working and the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey estimated that males earn about $7800 per year more than females in their fifth year after graduation.

Macquarie University researcher Ian Watson recently estimated that as much as 70 per cent of the gender pay gap is due to discrimination.

In the UK, female bankers are getting bonuses worth 80 per cent less than their male counterparts, a survey by the UK’s equality watchdog has found.

The figures obtained by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also reveal that starting salaries for women at the top 50 City banks and finance institutions were 37 per cent less than for men on their first day.


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