Research shows gender pay gap in the Australian workforce

The unequal pay between men and women is a stark indicator of how both genders engage with the workforce. The second report in the BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights series strengthens the evidence that already exists around the gender pay gap in Australia. The report used data from four million employees and over 12,000 employers in the 2015-16 reporting period. The report has updated calculations of gender pay gaps for casual, full-time, and part-time employees.

The average gender pay gap for full-time workers has declined since 2015, as well as the gender pay gaps in 12 of the 19 major industry groups.

Australian’s female-dominated organisations tend to be lower paid, particularly in gendered workforces such as healthcare and social assistance. Organisations with greater female representation tend to have lower gender pay gaps among management, but the managerial gender pay gap rises sharply when there is a higher concentration of male managers.

Organisations with a balanced gender representation in executive leadership roles tend to have pay gaps half the size of those with few women in leadership roles. Organisations that improved the balance of their executive leadership teams between 2015 and 2016 saw a large decline in their organisation-wide gender pay gaps.

Limiting opportunities for Australians to progress and participate in the workplace based on their gender results in a poor outcome for the economy, individuals, and the business. The report is intended to generate a discussion about ways to improve gender equality in Australian workplaces.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • A greater leadership balance drives a reduction in gender pay gaps
  • Male graduates access higher pay
  • Not all pay gaps favour men

Women working part-time out-earn men by an average of 7.8 per cent, and women are more likely to work part-time than men. The gender pay gap reverses at the senior level. Women working as part-time managers earn an average of 27.1 per cent less than men, with the gap in female-dominated work environments being 34.7 per cent.

Mining is the top paying male-dominated industry for women, with women working full-time earning an average of $139,053 total remuneration in 2016.

The next highest paying industries for women are electricity, water, gas, and waste services ($106,100) and banking and finance ($105,438). Retail trade was the lowest paying industry for women at $65,865.

The pay gaps among managers are increased by a larger share of discretionary pay awarded to men.