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Women continue to earn less than men, are less likely to advance their careers as far as men, and are more likely to spend their final years in poverty.1
Research has shown that closing the gap between men and women's employment rates would boost the level of Australia's GDP by 11%.2 In addition, companies operating with a gender-balance actually enhance their innovation and gain a competitive advantage.3
Removing disincentives for women to enter the paid workforce would increase the size of the Australian economy by about $25 billion per year.4
In this section you can learn more about the issues affecting women's employment and economic status in South Australia, including:
Pay equity means equal pay for work of equal or comparable value, regardless of gender.
The gender pay gap
The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) data both show a gender pay gap favouring full-time working men over full-time working women in every industry and occupational category in Australia.
The gender pay gap has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades.1
Lower wage rates mean lower lifetime earnings for women. The gender pay gap has implications for women's financial security, particularly in older age.
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of interrelated factors. According to research by KPMG, sex discrimination continues to be the single largest factor contributing to the gender pay gap.2 Industrial and occupational segregation, years spent out of the workforce, age and part-time employment are other contributing factors.3
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Gender Pay Gap
- KPMG, She's Price[d]less:The economics of the gender pay gap
- KPMG, She's Price[d]less:The economics of the gender pay gap
Many people, particularly women, struggle to balance work and the responsibilities of caring for children, family members and friends. Flexibility is equally important and relevant for men and women as it breaks the bias around gender roles outside the workplace. Access to flexible work options enable women and men to manage their work and caring responsibilities while remaining in employment.
There are benefits to flexible work options for both employees and employers and a range of flexible workplace arrangements can be used within a wide range of business settings. Flexibility can improve business practices, success requires leadership, accountability, innovation, dedication, long term support and accountability for results.
Flexible working arrangements can include:
- Flexible location, eg working from home or somewhere else more convenient, instead of the office.
- Flexible hours, eg changing start or finish times to accommodate personal or family commitments.
- Flexible patterns, eg for example, working longer days to provide for a shorter working week.
- Flexible rostering, eg split shifts.
- Flexibility at Work Office for the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment
- Australia's Hidden Workforce Kronos Australia research into flexible work
- A Strategic Approach to Workplace Flexibility Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Gender Neutral Recruitment Guidelines
Gender neutral recruitment is the practice of setting aside the gender of applicants when hiring staff in order to:
- address gendered biases and unconscious bias in recruitment, and
- increase the number of women in leadership and in male-dominated industries.
For many years increasing women’s participation in employment has been argued as a matter of equality and the ‘right’ thing to do. Today women’s full participation in employment is argued on the basis of economics — it is now the ‘smart’ thing to do.
The Office for Women developed these guidelines to help organisations to identify ways they can increase the number of women in senior positions through gender neutral recruitment.
The Guidelines for Gender Neutral Recruitment (PDF 771.9 KB) outline a number of techniques that can be put into practice to work towards gender neutral recruitment.
Paid Parental Leave
Australia's national Paid Parental Leave scheme currently provides leave for a total of 18 weeks which can be shared by eligible parents after the birth or adoption of their child. The leave is fully funded by the Australian Government and is paid at the adult minimum wage for each week of leave, with benefits subject to normal taxation.
The scheme is provided in addition to existing employer funded paid parental leave schemes.
Paid parental leave encourages women to stay connected to the workforce while parenting full time and aims to increase women's workforce participation.
Dad and Partner Pay
Dad and Partner Pay is available to eligible fathers and partners caring for a child born or adopted from 1 January 2013. It provides eligible working fathers or partners, including adopting parents and parents in same-sex couples, with two weeks of Dad and Partner Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage.
Keeping in Touch days - staying connected to the workplace
Keeping in touch days allow an employee who is still on unpaid parental leave to go back to work for a few days. This is a good way for employees who are caring for a baby or newly adopted child to stay up to date with their workplace, refresh their skills and assist their return to work.
An employee on unpaid parental leave gets 10 keeping in touch days. This doesn't affect their unpaid parental leave entitlement and is paid at their normal wage. If the employee extends their period of unpaid parental leave beyond 12 months, they can take an additional 10 days.
Work on a keeping in touch day may include:
- participating in a planning day
- doing training or
- attending a conference.
- Supporting Working Parents Australian Human Rights Commission
- Paid Parental Leave Department of Human Services
- Paid Parental Leave Fair Work Ombudsman
- Dad and Partner Pay Centrelink
- Paid Parental Leave: Support for Parents with Newborn Children Productivity Commission
- Keeping in Touch Days Fair Work Ombudsman
- Women's Money Toolkit ASIC
Women can face unique challenges when it comes to retirement savings. Lower pay, time out of the workforce to raise children and running a single-parent household can make it challenging to build a reasonable amount of super.
Women also tend to live longer than men, making it even more essential for them to accumulate enough superannuation to last through retirement.
Workplace Gender Equality data shows that a gender pay gap in average annual earnings for full-time permanent employees results in an annual 19.3% shortfall in superannuation contributions for women compared to men.1
The average Australian woman currently retires with about $127,000 in superannuation savings, compared to $176,000 for men.2
35% of women have no money prepared for retirement and one in three Australian women do not have any superannuation at all, including 60 per cent of women aged 65 to 69.3
- Gender Indicators, Australia: Superannuation Australian Bureau of Statistics
- MoneySmart: Superannuation and Women ASIC
- Find your lost super Australian Taxation Office
- The Gender Gap in Retirement Savings Australian Human Rights Commission
- The Facts About Women and Super Women in Super
- Women's Money Toolkit ASIC
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Pay gap leads to 19.3% annual super shortfall for full-time women
- Roy Morgan (2018), Single Source Survey
- Association of Super Funds Australia (2014), An update on the level and distribution of retirement savings.
Women in STEM
Careers in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) offer the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation.
Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is essential to our economy and to achieve gender equality.
By attracting and retaining more women in the STEM workforce we will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.
How to Attract and Retain Women in STEM
Women Trailblazers and Role Models
Mentoring, Professional Groups and Networking
UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science
- Gender Equality in Education and the Workplace A history by OpenColleges
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency
- Equal Footing toolkit for workplaces to promote gender equality and respectful relationships
- Generate your own reports and compare workforce data for industries, occupations, and regions in South Australia using the Workforce Wizard (Department of Industry and Skills)
- Women's Money Toolkit tips and tools to help you manage your money, gain an edge on your finances and deal with life's ups and downs
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)
- Goldman Sachs JBWere, Australia's Hidden Resource: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation (2009), p2.
- Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, 'Why Japan's Talent Wars Now Hinge on Women', Harvard Business Review Blog Network, 9 December 2013
- The Grattan Institute, Game-changers: Economic reform priorities for Australia (2013), p39.