Men out-earn women, study shows

What can employers do to close the gender pay gap in the workplace?

Men out-earn women, study shows

Men earn more than women across every generation, emphasizing an increased gender pay gap, according to the latest Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) census.

With the peak at ages 55-64, men earn more than women by 31.9% or more than $40,000 on average per year, based on the WGEA data.

Unequal opportunities for women 

Aside from the pay gap, the survey also reported that at every age of their working lives, only less than 50% of women work full time, whether by choice or necessity.

WGEA said the divergence in working patterns occurs from age 35 onwards when men primarily work full time while women only predominantly work part-time or casual.

“Men over the age of 55 are twice as likely to be in management than women. For the women who have made it to managerial ranks at the same age, two-thirds are in lower-tiered management ranks,” the agency said.

Additionally, the survey said that even when women reach the roles of a senior executive or CEO at 55 years old and above, they only take home around $93,000 per year less on average than male senior executive and CEO counterparts.

If the trend of the gender gap continues, the WGEA warned that millennial women currently in the workforce would earn only 70% of men’s income by the time they reach the age of 45.

“Millennial women in the workforce 35 and under are currently reaching management at equal rates as men,” WGEA Director, Mary Wooldridge, said. “We have a generation of Australian women who are highly educated, and over the last decade, have been outnumbering men in higher education enrolments and completion.”

Effective employment policies

According to Wooldridge, many business communities only miss out on potential skilled workers by not encouraging women to work additional hours or in managerial positions.

Thus, the WGEA director said that businesses should implement employer policies that focus on equal access to workplace support for men and women throughout their entire working career, including gender-neutral parental leave policies, childcare subsidies and support, and flexible work policies.

 “With effective policies, workplaces can both enable women to work full-time if they chose to and make higher-paid managerial roles more accessible for those who work part-time,” she said. “In times of a tight talent market, attracting and retaining highly skilled and capable women is more important than ever.”

Wooldridge said that if businesses want to unlock the potential of women, there needs to be a shift in workplace structures because a creative environment would “reap the talent rewards today and, in the future.”

Recommendations for employers and employees

Following the data, the WGEA provided relevant suggestions for employers, such as:

  • Introducing policies focusing on workforce time out
  • Encouraging flexible work for both men and women
  • Setting and checking targets for men and women equally using these policies
  • Rethinking leadership – offer part-time and job-sharing roles for managers
  • Assisting access to affordable childcare through the on-site provision or financial support

The WGEA also said that employees could use WGEA’s interactive data to search for their respective companies and see their policies and practices.

Moreover, the WGEA reminded employees that when considering job offers, they should “see how the workplace compares on the availability of paid parental leave, gender balance in leadership, or if the company takes action on gender equality through regular pay audits.”

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