In commemoration of International Women's Day this week, data has been released which tracks the history and progress of the gender pay gap in Australia - and predicts when pay parity will be a reality.
Metrics measuring the economic progress of women in Australia hit record numbers in the March 2019 quarter. Still, equality is unlikely until 2031 at current rates of growth.
The Women’s Index rose 1.9 points to 122.7 points in the March quarter, up from a revised 120.8 points in December 2018.
“The result reflects the fastest pace of women’s quarterly progress in two years, helped by record female full-time employment, workforce participation, improved educational enrolments and earnings growth relative to men as reflected in a record low of the gender pay gap,” said Financy, the company behind the Women’s Index.
Persistent problem areas in Australia which drag the index down include female representation on boards. The number of women occupying ASX 200 board positions rose to 29.7% in February after a dip to 29.6% in January.
The superannuation savings gap between men and women in retirement is also a major barrier. The average account balance for women is 34% less than that of the average man.
The sectors that recorded the biggest drop in their gender pay gaps in the March quarter are male-dominated and include construction and transport, postal and warehousing. They experienced respective declines of 2.6 percentage points to 12.5% and 2.1 percentage points to 15.7%.
Financial and insurance services and health care and social assistance, which is the most female dominated, continue to be the worst performing industries for the gender pay gap. They rose by 0.2 percentage points to 26.9% and 0.8 percentage points to 25.8% respectively in November.
“The financial sector holds the unenviable title of the least equitable for its mean pay gap of 26.9%,” said national chair of the Asssociation of Financial Adviser’s ‘Inspire’ group, Kate McCallum.
“This is not a woman’s problem. This is a system problem. There are inherited systems and structures in financial organisations that simply don’t support women to thrive,” she said.
"Most companies acknowledge this and are already doing some great stuff. The challenge is, we’ve been trying to eliminate the pay gap for years and it’s not budging. It’s time for bold moves,” she said.