The gender wage gap? Yep, it’s still a thing.

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Words | Katherine Robinson

Australia is one of only two developed countries which has seen a rise in the gender pay gap over the last two decades. We may have Milo and Chris Hemsworth, but this definitely isn’t a good look for us down under. 

Sometimes the push for gender equality saturates the media so much, you actually think that the cogs of justice might be moving. Sadly, this means we can neglect to look in our own backyards to see what’s really changed. The answer? Not much. As of 2019, the wage gap still sits at 14.9%, which means that men are making about $240 a week more than women. Depending on your priorities, that’s an entire week’s rent or your share of the accommodation for Bali in November- either way, you should be appalled. This also equals out to mean that women need to be working an extra 59 days to earn the same amount as men- that’s a lot of overtime forms to have to fill out just to even the playing field. 

One of the primary reasons the wage gap seems to be so persistent is gender-based hiring and the over representation of genders in certain job sectors. For example, women tend to be clustered into jobs like healthcare and education whereas men are more dominant in engineering, building and IT related fields. Highly gender segregated workplaces are pretty much stock standard, even in 2020 – meaning sectors that are dominated more by women, are paid less for their services. This is also still the case for higher ranking roles. That’s right ladies, we are still battling our way up that corporate ladder and smashing through that glass ceiling, only to be told at the top that our work is worth 14.9% less- oh and you better not be planning on having kids any time soon, cause that’s a major no-no. 

Yep, you heard me right: in Australia women who want a career and children often can kiss a fair wage and superannuation goodbye. All of our workplace standards are still highly entrenched in the idea that women are the caregivers, and that means their pay and future career prospects will suffer. Studies conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) show that despite some workplaces addressing this issue, nearly half of working women are concerned about what a family will do for their career prospects and feel they are often overlooked for new roles and promotions upon their return to the workplace. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that some of our recent high ranking females like Julie Bishop and Julia Gillard, don’t have children. Another little fun fact, while women tend to experience a pay hit when they return to work after having kids, fathers have been known to see an increase in salary. Go figure. 

So, where to from here? Well, experts say there is still a long way to go before Australia will see equal pay and there is no way we will get there without addressing the gender stereotypes we have grown accustomed to in the workplace. Chat to your employer, start the discussion around pay equity for women- but the first step needs to be reminding Australians that this is still an issue and that archaic gender norms aren’t a thing of the past.

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