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Women paid less and happy about it

Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows the national salary gap between men and women currently sits at 17.1 per cent – a slight improvement compared to the 17.5 per cent recorded in August last year.

Helen Conway, Director of the Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), commented recently that the persistent pay gap is both concerning and frustrating.

“Sadly, there is a pay gap in favour of men in every single industry,” Conway said, adding that it’s fair to assume employers don’t deliberately set out to discriminate.

“But many organisations simply don’t realise they have a gender pay gap,” Conway said. “I say to organisations who think pay equity isn’t an issue for them, ‘how do you know?’ Unless you’ve analysed your payroll data, any assertion that you don’t have a problem is uninformed.”

The pay gap fluctuates between sectors, and ABS figures indicate that some of the highest gender pay gaps are actually found in female dominated industries. For example, in the health care and social assistance sectors, the pay gap has increased by 2.1 per cent in the last 12 months to stand at 31.1 per cent.

Other industries to also experience a worsening pay gap include the retail, hospitality and construction industries. Currently the financial and insurance services have the highest pay gap at 31.9 per cent – though the figure has improved slightly from 33.6 per cent in 2012.

Bizarrely though, survey data compiled by market research firm Roy Morgan found that women are more likely than their male counterparts to rate their pay as satisfactory.

In a nationwide survey of more than 9,000 workers, the research found that just over half of all women in paid employment (50.3 per cent) consider their pay to be ‘good’, compared with 48.8 per cent of male workers.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, commented that the findings raise the question of whether women have been conditioned to have lower expectations and taught to keep the peace, rather than demand better conditions on the job.

Raising a family continues to take many women out of the workforce for years. Of all women with children at home, 23.5 per cent of them are in full-time employment (compared to 25.3 per cent on ‘home duties’).

“The fact that men comprise two-thirds of Australia’s full-time workforce speaks volumes about the challenges women face when trying to build a career for themselves,” Levine said.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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