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Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity

  • June 21 2021
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Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity

By Cameron Micallef
June 21 2021

Australian women are leading the recovery when it comes to jobs, but women still have a long way to go to reach parity, new research has revealed.

Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity

Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity

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  • June 21 2021
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Australian women are leading the recovery when it comes to jobs, but women still have a long way to go to reach parity, new research has revealed.

Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity

The latest Financy Women’s Index shows women’s financial outcomes are improving off the back of greater job prospects.

According to the study, more women are employed than ever before, which is helping drive Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn.

Not only are women’s jobs prospects improving dramatically, the number of hours worked by women on a monthly basis has improved by the fastest rate in almost 40 years.

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Employment data shows a record increase in female workforce participation, as well as improvement in the underemployment rate gender gap and a fresh high in women holding ASX 200 board directorships.

Driven by higher employment, lower underemployment and moving up into leadership positions, the financial prospects for women measured by Financy showed improvement of 0.7 points to a revised 71.6 in the March quarter, which is the best start to a calendar year since 2018.

Women’s Index founder Bianca Hartge-Hazelman has welcomed the result with cautious optimism.

“It’s fantastic to see that female employment is bouncing back in many of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic shutdowns,” she said.

“However when we look at what this means for gender equality in employment, the rebound shaved four years off the now 30-year time frame for achieving that. While it’s a step in the right direction, it’s actually reflective of the slowest pace of annual progress since 2018.”

Deloitte Access Economics partner Simone Cheung said that sectors with high female representation such as health and social services have also grown significantly over the pandemic. On the other hand, male-dominated industries such as construction have seen a drop in employment.

“The question remains: is this women-led recovery in jobs a correction or is it a sign of things to come? We will have to wait and see,” she said.

“What we do next will be critical and will determine whether this momentum is maintained or whether things reverts to the pre-COVID norm.”

How long will it take to reach parity?

Despite the strong progress women are making, the current time frame to achieve total gender equality stands at 101 years based on the worst-performing sub-index, which is unpaid work.

“While it’s excellent news to see the Financy Women’s Index resume its rising trend in the March quarter, in most areas we remain many years and in some cases decades away from achieving gender financial equality,” said AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver.

In terms of other sub-indexes and achieving gender equality in those areas, the Women’s Index estimates it will now take 30 years to achieve equal employment, down from 34 years in March 2020.

The gender gap in unpaid work seemed to worsen through the pandemic; however, the crisis has also shown a way forward to help address this problem in a way that is beneficial for both males and females and at the same time good for productivity.

“The pandemic has shown that it’s possible to work from home in a more flexible way without negatively impacting productivity,” Dr Oliver said.

“And more working from home should further help boost female workforce participation, thereby reducing their unpaid work. At the same time, more men working from home should allow them to more fairly share in household and parental chores.”

According to the economist, “The key is to encourage and facilitate the work from home phenomenon so that its benefits can be nurtured rather than just go back to business as usual once the pandemic is behind us.”

Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity
Women lead recovery but lag behind in parity
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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