(Finally) Equal Pay Day, 31 August 2021

The end of a two-month wait to close the gender pay gap

Australian women in 2021 have had to work about two months more, on average, to earn the same as men did last financial year.

Equal Pay Day 2021 recognises that it has taken until 31 August to close the national gender pay gap, which is 14.2%, a rise of 0.8 percentage points over the last six months.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Director Mary Wooldridge said that at the current pay gap, on average, for every six years men work, women will need to work seven to be on par with their earnings.

“Equal Pay Day is a symbolic recognition that women’s potential is not being fully realised or valued and an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“While nearly two months difference is too long, the real gender pay gap is even greater. This traditional calculation is based on the ABS’s ordinary full-time average weekly earnings. If we include average weekly earnings data on earnings for all hours worked, including overtime and part-time work, the pay gap more than doubles to 31.3%.”

No matter which data set is used, they all show a significant pay gap in favour of men. Awareness is the first step to action – and this is why this Equal Pay Day we’re calling on all Australians to ask the question: What’s your pay gap?”

To mark this year’s Equal Pay Day, WGEA has released comparisons of the gender pay gap between women and men by State, and across industries, to highlight the pay discrimination experienced by women.

Comparing the earnings data across the country, the gender pay gap is the largest in Western Australia at 21.9%, with men earning approximately $23,000 more over the course of a year than women. Western Australia is followed by Queensland and NSW as the states with the next highest pay gaps.

Across industries, the average weekly full-time earnings data highlights that Professional, Scientific and Technical Services – which includes occupations such as vets, lawyers, accountants and computer system designers – still has the biggest earnings gap at 25.3%.

The WGEA Director said these earning differences compound over the course of a woman’s working life all the way to retirement.

“The impact of the gender pay gap on women’s lives is real and long-lasting. The data shows that, on average, women’s median super account balances are over 20% lower than men’s. Consequently, women are more likely to retire with reduced economic security,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“This Equal Pay Day, start by asking, #WhatsYourPayGap, and continue to drive this conversation and ensure that the work of Australian women is equally and fairly valued in our workplaces.”


#WhatsYourPayGap: Here’s what you can do this Equal Pay Day:


Gender Pay Gap – by State and Territory


Gender pay gap

May 2021


Difference between male and female average weekly full-time earnings































Gender Pay Gap – By Industry – Top six industries with largest gender pay gap in 2021


Gender pay gap

May 2021


Difference between male and female average weekly full-time earnings



Professional, Scientific and Technical Services



Financial and Insurance Services



Health Care and Social Assistance



Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services










Background information on the national gender pay gap

Key facts

  • The national gender pay gap is 14.2%.
    • This is a 0.8pp rise from the previous gender pay gap six months ago of 13.4%
  • On average, women working full-time earned $1,575.50/week while men working full-time earned $1,837.00/week.
  • The full-time average weekly earnings difference between women and men is $261.50/week.

About the national gender pay gap
The national gender pay gap measures the difference between the average weekly full-time base salary earnings of women and men, 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.

What is the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay?

Equal pay is the concept of women and men being paid the same for performing the same role or different work of equal or comparable value. In Australia, this has been a legal requirement since 1969.

The gender pay gap is different to equal pay. It measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce. It is not the difference between two people being paid differently for the same or similar job, which is unlawful.

When we talk about the gender pay gap, we are talking about the difference between what men and women get paid, on average, across organisations, industries, and the workforce as a whole.

On what data is the Gender Pay Gap calculation based?

WGEA has traditionally calculated the national gender pay gap using the ABS average weekly ordinary full-time earnings data. This survey estimates adult average weekly ordinary time earnings (base salaries) and excludes information on a person’s total remuneration, such as overtime.

The ABS also calculate average weekly total earnings for all employees, including part-timers and juniors and earnings for all hours worked, including overtime. The national pay gap calculated based on total earnings is 31.3%.

Presently, there are not further breakdowns of average weekly earnings by age, cultural background or other measures of diversity.

No matter which data set is used, the trend of a pay gap between women and men’s earnings continues to be represented. Equal Pay Day is a symbolic way to recognise this difference.

What does the AWE data tell us about the current labour market situation?

The biannual AWE data is a snapshot in time. This survey was in May 2021 and there have obviously been changes since May as a result of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks. It is not a complete reflection of what has been happening in the Australian labour market.



Media contact: Murray Black 0438 071 876 / E murray.black@wgea.gov.au