Gender pay gap increases

Issue 

Recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the pay gap between men and women is the highest it has been since records began in 1994.

On average, women earn 18.8% less than men for full-time work. The average full-time weekly earnings for men is $1587.50 while for women it is $298 less. The gap had been closing, and decreased to around 15% in 2005 but has since surpassed its 1994 level.

One factor is that male-dominated industries pay more than female-dominated industries. Miners, who are 85% male, earn more than social workers, who are 77% female.

Even in the same industry, men earn more than women. In finance and insurance, full-time male workers earn $2005, while full-time female workers earn $1411 – 30% less.

Men are far more likely to hold senior roles in any industry. Diversity and productivity researcher Conrad Liveris recently compiled statistics that showed a person is more likely to be a CEO if they are named Peter or David or Michael than if they are a woman.

Women are also much more likely to work part-time, so the actual inequality is greater than is shown by the comparison of full-time wages.

The gender pay gap has little to do with education. Other recently released ABS statistics show that women are more educated than men. In 2014, 42% of women aged between 25 and 29 had a Bachelor Degree or above compared to just 31% of men.

The government is taking action to eliminate such worrying statistics – by eliminating the statistics.

Michaela Cash, the minister assisting the prime minister for women, said, “The government will remove the most onerous of Labor’s additional requirements that were due to be introduced on April 1.

“This includes the requirement to report on separate components of remuneration for each employee. Reporting on job applications and interviews will also be removed. Employers will not need to report on CEO salaries from the 2015-16 reporting period.”

March 8 marks the 107th anniversary of International Women’s Day. A century of struggle for women’s rights has transformed society. The suggestion that women should not have equal rights with men is considered preposterous today.

But the sort of equality that has become accepted is only a legal equality – an equality on paper. These latest statistics on the gender pay gap expose the gulf between legal equality and genuine equality.

The struggle for genuine equality still goes on. Green Left Weekly has been fighting for women’s rights since it began 24 years ago – not just by reporting the facts on inequality and injustice, but also by calling on those who support the struggle to take to the streets to fight for real equality.

You can help us keep the struggle going by donating to the GLW fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia). Donations can also be made online at greenleft.org.au.

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