The five things you should know about the gender pay gap

Last year, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (‘the Agency’) published a quiz testing the public’s knowledge on the gender pay gap. Since its release, the Agency has received over 500 responses.

The average score was 71% - 9.2 out of 13. Around one in five respondents scored within 90%-100%. 

If you haven’t take the quiz yet, have a go at it before reading on: How well do you really know the gender pay gap?

The results are telling of a wider issue that the Agency has been monitoring for some time now:  There is confusion about the gender pay gap. With that said, we have compiled for you the top five things you should know about the gender pay gap:

1. The gender pay gap is not ‘equal pay’

The most interesting finding was that 93% of respondents knew that ‘equal pay’ and ‘the gender pay gap’ do not mean the same thing.

The number of people who correctly defined these concepts significantly dropped - around half of the respondents chose the right definitions for ‘the gender pay gap’ and ‘equal pay’.

Learn more about what the ‘gender pay gap’ is in our article This is why you should care about the gender pay gap

2. The gender pay gap starts as soon as women and men enter the workforce

Nearly 80% of people who took the quiz got this question right. Despite women representing almost 60% of higher education students, there is a graduate gender pay gap.

Most areas of study show a gender pay gap in favour of men and this is much more pronounced at postgraduate level.

3. The gender pay gap affects men too

Three-quarters of quiz respondents identified that the gender pay gap is not just a women’s issue.

Men’s equality is an important piece of the puzzle to solving the gender pay gap. Gender-neutral paid parental leave and flexible work are key drivers to lowering the gender pay gap as women are given more choice about how to structure their work and family lives. Unfortunately, men are not offered the same opportunities as women when it comes to flexible work and parental leave.

See our article Dad’s the word for more information about the discrimination men face

4. No industry or occupation is free from the hold of the gender pay gap

This was one of the most difficult questions for quiz respondents. The Agency’s data shows that there is a full-time total remuneration gender pay gap in every industry and occupation – including the female dominated industries and occupations.

To learn more about the specific gender pay gaps in industries and occupations, see the Agency’s latest Gender Equality Scorecard

5. Everyone has a role to play in closing the gender pay gap

This question was the easiest for respondents to answer correctly, with 95% of people getting it right.

Many different actions can help close the gender pay gap.

Individuals can do things such as:

  1. Support a male colleague to work flexibly
  2. Don’t go into autopilot – instead have continuing and open conversations with your partner about what you both want for your careers and family life
  3. Build your financial literacy and keep track of your superannuation (men are not a retirement plan)

See more actions you can take to improve gender equality in your life

Employers can do things such as:

  1. Foster a workplace culture that supports gender equality from the top-down – leadership buy-in is a must
  2. Build an effective gender equality strategy for your organisation
  3. Stay accountable to the journey ahead. This means setting targets, measuring impact and reporting results upward for any gender equality goal your organisation is aiming for

You can diagnose performance, set goals and build a comprehensive gender equality strategy with our Gender Strategy toolkit