Australian women are closing the gender pay gap in many jobs but still getting short-changed in more senior roles, according to new analysis conducted by global management consultancy Hay Group.
Researchers have found that salaries for Australian women averaged nearly 5 per cent less than men in comparable roles. However it is widely known that the average wage for a female worker in Australia is around 20 per cent less than the average male worker, quite a different number than when looked at on a comparable roles basis.
This analysis by Hays was conducted by reviewing salary data from almost 260,000 Australian jobs and 410 local organisations.
According to the data, there was a significant gender imbalance in senior roles prevalent in top paying sectors. Only 17 per cent of senior management and executive roles in ‘pay premium’ industries such as mining, utilities and industrial manufacturing were occupied by women.
Trevor Warden, Total Rewards Lead, Hay Group Pacific said, the under-representation of women in Scientific, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles was a key contributor to the pay gap at the top.
“The data suggests the larger discrepancy in average pay could be due to a lack of prevalence of women in certain technical jobs and ‘big roles’ that would generally command higher pay. When looking across all jobs by job size for a fair apples-to-apples comparison, female workers are typically being paid between 2 – 7 per cent below their male colleagues,” Warden said.
Warden said that ensuring that men and women are paid equally for the same jobs is the first step that companies must take towards a fairer workplace. However he said a much bigger challenge is to increase female participation in male-dominated sectors and make senior roles across the board more accessible for women.
“The gap is most keenly felt in sectors where STEM skills are more highly valued. In these sectors – such as resources, technology and manufacturing of industrial goods – only a quarter of the workforce comprises women. To close the overall gender pay gap we need to increase female participation in jobs that attract higher salaries.”
“Changing strong gender stereotypes that discourage women from pursuing education and consequently jobs in certain sectors and certain roles is a task that business policies alone cannot overcome,” Warden added.
In order to address gender pay issues, organisations need to implement a range of initiatives including:
“There needs to be a cultural shift, a new societal mindset that does not stereotype roles, neither at work or at home and encourages both men and women to achieve their potential in their field of choice.”
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