About the Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap (GPG) is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors, including:
- discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
- women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages
- women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
- lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
- women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.
Gender pay gaps are an internationally established measure of women’s position in economy. Directly comparing international gender pay gaps is problematic due to differences in sources, definitions and methods used to calculate the gender pay gap in different countries.
However, it is clear that gender pay gaps in favour of men are a common feature of economies worldwide.
Calculating the Gender Pay Gap
Australian gender pay gaps are calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA, the Agency). The GPG is derived as the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.
Australian gender pay gaps are calculated by WGEA using ABS Full-Time Adult Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings Seasonal series from the Australian Weekly Earnings (AWE) survey. The survey estimates the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings (seasonal) before tax, excluding factors such as overtime, pay that is salary sacrificed and junior and part-time employees.
The GPG is derived as the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.
Changes to the data in 2020
Traditionally, the data used by WGEA for calculating the national gender pay gap is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Full-Time Adult Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings Trend series from the Australian Weekly Earnings survey.*
However, given the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market and that it is currently not known whether this impact will be short, medium or long-term, the ABS have suspended the use of trend data.**
Instead, seasonally adjusted data has been used to calculate average weekly earnings during the COVID-19 period. This means the Agency will not compare this year’s gender pay gap statistics to previous years.
Given the extent of change in the labour market and the impact of COVID-19 is ongoing, it will be important to continue monitoring the data to further understand the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s workforce.
*ABS (2020), Average Weekly Earnings, November 2019, cat. no. 6302.0, viewed 20 February 2020, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6302.0.
**ABS (2020) Methods changes during the COVID-19 period, June 2020, cat. no. 1359.0, viewed August 2020, https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/1359.0Main%20Features15Jun%202020?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=1359.0&issue=Jun%202020&num=&view=.
The National Gender Pay Gap
The national gender pay gap is calculated by WGEA using data from the ABS.
Currently, Australia’s national gender pay gap is 14.0%.
At May 2020, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,558.40 compared to men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of $1,812.00.
The national gender pay gap over time
Given the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market and that it is currently not known whether this impact will be short, medium or long-term, the ABS has suspended the use of trend data. WGEA has used seasonally adjusted data to calculate average weekly earnings during the COVID-19 period from May 2020 and will not compare the pay gap statistics during this period to previous years.
Australia’s national gender pay gap has hovered between 13.9% and 19% for the past two decades.* There has been a decrease of 0.3 of a percentage point in the gender pay gap since November 2018 (14.1%).
Between 1999 and 2019 the national gender pay gap was:
- lowest in November 2019, at 13.9%
- highest in November 2014, at 18.5%.
Figure 1: The Australian national gender pay gap, Nov 1999 - Nov 2019**
Data source: ABS (2020), Average Weekly Earnings, Nov 2019, cat. no. 6302.0, viewed 20 November 2020, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6302.0>
Note: Based on full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings, trend series.
* Unless otherwise stated, all measures of the gender pay gap are expressed as a percentage (%) based on average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time employees (trend data), with changes over time provided as the percentage point (pp) difference.
**The difference between the November 2018 and November 2019 gender pay gap figures of 0.27 p.p. is rounded to 0.3 p.p.
** The release frequency changed from quarterly to bi-annual between May and November 2012. May 2012 represents the start of the new bi-annual series.
WGEA collects pay data annually from non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees, covering more than 4 million employees in Australia. This data includes superannuation, bonuses and other additional payments.
The full-time total remuneration gender pay gap based on WGEA data is 20.8%, meaning men working full-time earn nearly $25,679 a year more than women working full-time.
Figure 2: Full-time base salary and total remuneration, 2013-14 to 2018-19
Source: WGEA (2019), Australia’s gender equality scorecard, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2018-19-Gender-Equality-Scorecard.pdf
Note: Based on total remuneration of full-time employees, which includes full-time base salary plus any additional benefits payable directly or indirectly, whether in cash or in a form other than cash. Includes: bonus payments (including performance pay), superannuation, discretionary pay, overtime, other allowances and other benefits (for example share allocations).
Gender pay gap 2020 infographic
- WGEA Data Explorer: displays gender pay gap data (based on a census of non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees that are required to report to the Agency and representing over 40% of Australian employees)
- Australia’s gender equality scorecard: released in November 2019.
- Gender Equity Insights Reports: Inside Australia's Gender Pay Gap: for a more detailed analysis of the Agency’s gender pay gap data (such as by governing boards’ gender composition and by whether organisations are more female-dominated, male-dominated or mixed).