Women behind in pay stakes

by 20 Mar 2007

THERE IS a significant gap between male and female earnings, according to a recent Australian Bureau of statistics (ABS) report.

Figures showed that males were typically earning more than their female counterparts as in the 12 months to November 2006, full-time adult ordinary-time earnings rose by 3.4 per cent for males and 2.2 per cent for females.

In analysing the corresponding dollar amount, males earned $1,124.60 and females $940.60.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) believes the results do not bode well for families seeking a reasonable work-life balance. “This drop should be a major concern to all Australians struggling to juggle their paid work and family responsibilities,” said the HREOC president, and Acting Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination., John von Doussa.

“It is clear that as long as women continue to earn less than men, they will be under more pressure to give up or reduce their paid employment in order to meet unpaid caring obligations.”

Von Doussa said the average weekly earnings figures showed a decline of 1.4 per cent in the gender pay gap over the last two years. This means that the average full-time working woman currently earns 83.6 cents in the male dollar compared with 85 cents in February 2005.

Similarly, The Australian Women and Leadership Forum also showed its concern following the release of the ABS’Average Weekly Earnings Report.

The results of the 2006 EOWA Australian Census of Women in Leadership conducted by the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) also found that women hold only 12 per cent of executive management positions and 39.5 per cent of companies have no female executive managers.

“Both sets of statistics paint a dismal picture of Australian women in leadership roles,” said Emma Harvey of the Australian Women and Leadership Forum.

To bring this issue into focus, the Australian Women and Leadership Forum is set to roll out a national Executive Women’s Leadership Symposium program, featuring top women leaders in April 2007.

“The program is based on the premise that executive-level women need executive-level learning experiences,”Harvey said.

“Our female leaders require specific skills, resources and capabilities to deal with the increasing complexities of their work, and they need the validation and affirmation of other women on the leadership path that they are on track with their current strategy and approach to the future.”

The time to address the imbalance of the number of Australian women in leadership positions and their earnings can no longer be ignored, she added.

The HREOC has also recently completed a major research project looking at what Australian families need to better equip them to balance their paid and unpaid responsibilities, von Doussa revealed.

The soon to be released paper, Its About Time: Women, men, work and family, is based on extensive national community consultation and input from 181 submissions from families, employers, unions and community groups.

The paper makes 45 recommendations for policy and legislative change to help Australian families better manage their paid work and family commitments.

According to von Doussa, the pay inequality also limits choices for men to undertake a greater role in the home as families cannot afford to lose the larger part of a double income.

“To create real choices for men and women we need to put more effort into progressing pay equity. We need to make it easier for families to manage their paid work and family responsibilities,” he said.


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