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. The Agency calculates the national gender pay gap using Australian Bureau of Statistics' Average Weekly Full-Time Earnings data (cat. No. 6302.0). The national gender pay gap is currently 16.2% and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades.
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of interrelated work, family and societal factors, including stereotypes about the work women and men ‘should’ do, and the way women and men ‘should’ engage in the workforce. Other factors that contribute to the gender pay gap include:
- women and men working in different industries (industrial segregation) and different jobs (occupational segregation). Historically, female-dominated industries and jobs have attracted lower wages than male-dominated industries and jobs
- a lack of women in senior positions, and a lack of part-time or flexible senior roles. Women are more likely than men to work part-time or flexibly because they still undertake most of society’s unpaid caring work and may find it difficult to access senior roles
- women’s more precarious attachment to the workforce (largely due to their unpaid caring responsibilities)
- differences in education, work experience and seniority
- discrimination, both direct and indirect.
Gender pay gaps can also be calculated for industries, occupations and individual organisations.
Download our latest gender pay gap statistics fact sheet.
Pay gaps within industries
In every single industry there is a pay gap favouring men. Some of the highest gender pay gaps are found in female dominated industries including health care and social assistance and finance and insurance services. Occupational segregation, a lack of women in leadership and a lack of part-time or flexible senior roles contribute to pay gaps within industries. Gender pay gaps tend to be lower in industries where pay rates are determined by an industry-wide award, as opposed to industries where pay rates are determined at the organisation-level through an enterprise bargaining agreement, or individual contractual arrangements. Overall, the gender pay gap in the private sector is considerably larger than the public sector.
In every occupational category, there is a gender pay gap favouring full-time working men over full-time working women. Technicians and trades workers and community and personal service workers have some of the highest gender pay gaps. Clerical and administrative workers, and machinery operators and drivers have some of the lowest gender pay gaps. Causes for occupational gender pay gaps may include women and men working in different types of organisations, a lack of women in more senior or high-paid roles within occupational categories, or discrimination. The Agency's data explorer contains a breakdown of gender pay gaps by industry.
Pay gaps in organisations
To assist organisations identify and analyse the causes of the various types of organisational gender pay gaps, the WGEA in partnership with Mercer, have developed the gender pay gap calculator. The pay gap calculator, technical guide and eLearning module are focused on the steps required to analyse data associated with addressing pay equity.
Pay equity for small business
Small businesses in Australia face a unique set of issues when it comes to managing and improving gender equality in their workplace. These typically include lower turnover rates, higher impact of parental leave costs, challenges in implementing flexible work options, limited or no human resources support or function, limited resources to develop gender strategies and management systems and limited data collection systems and processes.
Despite these challenges, there are many benefits to be gained by small business in addressing pay equity and gender equality more broadly. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, in collaboration with EconomicSecurity4Women, has developed a three-step guide for small businesses to address pay equity, including a payroll analysis worked example for small business.