Gender Equity Insights series

What is BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights?

Gender Equity Insights is an annual report produced by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) in collaboration with WGEA. The reports identify trends, policies and practices that work to address gender inequality in the workplace.

The analysis is based on data collected in the annual WGEA census of private sector employers with 100 or more employees.

In 2022, BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights used data on the location of employment, collected by WGEA for the first time. This additional information revealed new insights on the cause of the gender pay gap and how it differs across Australian states, cities and regions. 

Using this data, BCEC found workforce segregation was the key driver of the gender pay gap. Australia's gender pay gap would narrow by a third if all industries and occupations achieved a 40:40:20 gender split. 

Watch the online panel discussion

The BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights report 2022 launched online with a panel event featuring Professor Alan Duncan and Dr Silvia Salazar, from Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Mary Wooldridge, Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Carol Austin, Director, State Super (SAS Trustee Corporation); and Liz Ritchie, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute.  

Watch the full panel event in the video below 

The gender pay gap differs by location

BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights 2022 found the gender pay gap varies significantly across Australia and women face a "remoteness penalty". 

Type your postcode into the search bar below to find out the gender pay gap in your area. 

Across Australia, the areas with the largest gender pay gap are dominated by industry sectors with an unequal balance of men and women such as mining and healthcare.  

Western Australia has the largest gender pay gap and Tasmania has the lowest.  

Of the 10 regions with the largest gender pay gap:  

  • 7 feature mining as the top employing industry
  • 5 are in NSW  
  • 9 are in regional areas.
The worst gender pay gaps in Australia

What is driving the gender pay gap?

BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights 2022 found the main driver of the gender pay gap is the concentration of men in higher salary sectors and women in sectors with lower pay.

Australia's mining, construction and manufacturing sectors employ the lowest shares of women - less than 30 per cent of the workforce. All three of these industries offer above average pay. 

Meanwhile, women comprise around 80 per cent of the health care and social assistance workforce. Roles in this sector are typically lower paid. Similarly, up to two thirds of workers in education and training are women. 

“The overall pay gap will persist if more women than men work in lower-paid industry sectors, and more men than women work in industry sectors that pay high salaries. And the more extreme is this male and female dominance, the larger will be the overall gender pay inequities.”

Women work more in lower salary sectors and men in higher salary sectors

When does the gender pay gap start?

The age when the gender pay gap widens differs significantly by industry. 

In the construction industry, women earn less than men relatively early in their careers. Women working in education actually earn more than men in the initial stages of their career. But their pay remains relatively flat for their lifetime, while their male peers see continual pay increases. 

"These findings raise important questions about the relative value of work for women and men at different ages and across industry sectors."

The age of divergence in construction and education

40:40:20 targets would reduce the gender pay gap

BCEC modelled what would happen if Australia achieved a 40:40:20 gender balance across all industries and occupations. 

The 40:40:20 ratio refers to 40 per cent men, 40 per cent women, 20 per cent of any gender. It would apply to all levels of business. 

Achieving this ratio would reduce Australia's gender pay gap by a third.

WA's gender pay gap would be cut half, from 32.1 per cent to 16.5 per cent. In the Northern Territory the gender pay gap would reduce by two thirds. New South Wales and Victoria would see gender pay gaps fall by 7.4 and 6.5 percentage points respectively. Queensland's gender pay gap would fall by 8.8 percentage points. 

state gender pay gaps Australia

The importance of gender targets

The BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights 2022 found progress on gender equity will continue to stall "without clear and actionable gender strategies and targets for improvement."

To reduce the gender pay gap, Australia needs to: 

  • increase the share of women working in male-dominated occupations and industries
  • grow the share of men in female-dominated roles
  • ensure the occupations and roles more commonly undertaken by women are remunerated in a way that better reflects their value to society.  

"We need to see an increase in the share of women in leadership positions from CEO through to executive manager, in professional, scientific, technical and trades roles, and a rise in the share of men working in the health, community and social services sectors."

Employers who set gender targets are reaping the benefits of larger and more diverse recruitment pools, improvements in productivity and profitability and reductions in the gender pay gap.

gender targets can reduce the gender pay gap

Download the 2022 BCEC | WGEA Gender Equity Insights report