Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Persists, But Some States Are Doing Better Than Others

pay gap
Image: Getty Images

The world has made strides towards closing the pay gap across gender and race among other factors that disproportionately affect it. In Australia, the gap is steadily decreasing but data shows it’s still persisting in the country and some states fare worse than others.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has presented findings demonstrating a national gender pay gap of around 14 per cent, or $253.60 a week, using data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The government agency, tasked with improving gender equality in workplaces, based the calculations on data comparing the average weekly salary a woman working full-time — $1558.40 — to the equivalent average male salary of $1812.

When broken down by states and territories, it revealed while some fell well below the national average, others far exceeded it.

The ACT landed in the top spot with an average gender pay gap of 8.1 per cent, or $156.90 on weekly earnings, with South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria all achieving under 10 per cent.

Western Australia landed itself in last place with an average gap of 22.7 per cent or $454 a week. New South Wales and Queensland followed, both having a 15.3 per cent — $286 — weekly pay gap.

gender pay gap wgea
WGEA’s infographic shows how the states and territories vary. Image: WGEA

“In every state and territory of Australia, women are dealing with the consequences of pay gaps favouring men,” Libby Lyons, WGEA’s director, said in a media release.

“That we still have a gender pay gap clearly shows that women and men do not have equal standing in the Australian workforce.”

2014 marked the largest gap at 18.5 per cent since 1999. Thankfully, the good news is that while a pay gap persists today, it’s decreased slightly from the previous year’s by 0.3 per cent and is the lowest it’s been so far.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works for working women around the country and the depths of its impact is still unknown. In the meantime, Lyons pleads for Australian businesses to do better, even during the hard times, to ensure the track to equality is eventually achieved despite these setbacks.

“This Equal Pay Day, I urge all employers to stay on track and keep the gap in mind. Do that pay gap analysis and take action on the findings. Set targets, measure your progress, make people accountable for the outcomes and report the results to your board and executive team,” Lyons said.

“Make sure all of your employees — women and men — have equal access to flexible work and paid parental leave. If all employers do this, the pay gap will continue to head south.”

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