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Changing the rules for working women

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The rules for working women are broken

The good news is that the national gender pay gap has dropped to its lowest level in 20 years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have found the average weekly earnings gender pay gap for full-time employees narrowed to 15.3 per cent in May 2017. However, it may come as no surprise to learn that despite currently making up 47% of Australian workplaces, women are still earning less than men on average.

Some confronting facts:

  • In every occupation and industry in Australia, the average full-time salary is 14.6% lower for women than men.
  • The adult full-time average hourly wage for non-managerial women is 11.1% less than for non-managerial men.
  • Female-dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male-dominated
  • On average, the superannuation balances of men at retirement exceed those of women by more than $110,000.

According to the Independent Education Union of Australia these disparities, and the state of conditions and safety for women in the workplace reflect the fact that women’s work is traditionally undervalued.

How are women hit the hardest by these broken workplace rules?

  • Women are increasingly locked out of a secure retirement
  • Women make up the majority of workers reliant on a minimum wage
  • Women are more vulnerable to exploitative, casualised and insecure forms of work
  • Women face more disruptions over their working life by taking on the majority of the caring responsibilities for children, family members and/or aging parents

One example of such inequity being challenged by the IEUA (Independent Education Union Australia) is the Equal Remuneration Order case which is currently before the Fair Work Commission to remedy wages for early childhood teachers.

There is a significant discrepancy between the wages and conditions of early childhood teachers working in long day care centres and in some community preschools/kindergartens, compared to those conditions of their colleagues in schools despite having the same degrees and undertaking the same accreditation process, because they are mostly women.

The case further seeks the same rates of pay for early childhood teachers as applies to male primary school teachers and male professionals, eg. engineers.  The IEUA claim is based on the qualifications required and the responsibilities of the work, which all form part of the ‘work value’ of the job.

Solving the gender pay gap problem is a complex issue which will require a holistic approach by the Government, the community, and business. As the private sector is the largest employer of Australian women, it will have to work in close partnership with our Government to drive changes for women, including gender pay disparity, in the workplace.

Sources: IEUA, Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA)

Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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