Equal Pay Day recognised this week

| September 3, 2021

Australian women in 2021 have had to work about two months more, on average, to earn the same as men did last financial year.

Equal Pay Day 2021 recognises that it took until 31 August to close the national gender pay gap, which is 14.2%, a rise of 0.8 percentage points over the last six months.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Director Mary Wooldridge said that at the current pay gap, on average, for every six years men work, women will need to work seven to be on par with their earnings.

“Equal Pay Day is a symbolic recognition that women’s potential is not being fully realised or valued and an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“While nearly two months difference is too long, the real gender pay gap is even greater. This traditional calculation is based on the ABS’s ordinary full-time average weekly earnings. If we include average weekly earnings data on earnings for all hours worked, including overtime and part-time work, the pay gap more than doubles to 31.3%.”

“No matter which data set is used, they all show a significant pay gap in favour of men. Awareness is the first step to action – and this is why this Equal Pay Day we’re calling on all Australians to ask the question: What’s your pay gap?”

To mark this year’s Equal Pay Day, WGEA has released comparisons of the gender pay gap between women and men by State, and across industries, to highlight the pay discrimination experienced by women.

Comparing the earnings data across the country, the gender pay gap is the largest in Western Australia at 21.9%, with men earning approximately $23,000 more over the course of a year than women. Western Australia is followed by Queensland and NSW as the states with the next highest pay gaps.

Across industries, the average weekly full-time earnings data highlights that Professional, Scientific and Technical Services – which includes occupations such as vets, lawyers, accountants and computer system designers – still has the biggest earnings gap at 25.3%.

The WGEA Director said these earning differences compound over the course of a woman’s working life all the way to retirement.

“The impact of the gender pay gap on women’s lives is real and long-lasting. The data shows that, on average, women’s median super account balances are over 20% lower than men’s. Consequently, women are more likely to retire with reduced economic security,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“This Equal Pay Day, start by asking, #WhatsYourPayGap, and continue to drive this conversation and ensure that the work of Australian women is equally and fairly valued in our workplaces.”