Men out-earn women by $27,000 a year

Striking gender inequality in earnings and work status persists, writes Byron Smith.

The difference between full-time earnings of men and women is narrowing but remains about 24 per cent, with men taking home approximately $27,000 more than women each year.

This research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency follows the earlier release of ANZ Women’s Report: Barriers to achieving financial gender equity, which found that over their lifetime Australian women earn on average $700,000 less than men.

The WGEA research, for financial year 2014-15, covers more than 12,000 employers who hire about 40 per cent of Australian workers. And it shows men continue to dominate management.

Women hold 15.4 per cent of chief executive officer titles, just over 27 per cent of key management roles, and 36.5 per cent of all management positions.

Predictably, women also dominate part-time roles, at three times the rate of men.

“It is eye-opening to see the scale of the gender equality challenge. The data provides insights into where action is needed and a yardstick against which we can track progress,” says WGEA director Libby Lyons (pictured).

The agency’s research shows the pay gap is widest in the finance industry, but WEGA acknowledges there are major employers in finance (and other sectors) that actively pursue gender equality and are working to create awareness of problematic issues.


ANZ has been one such company and was named one of 90 WGEA Employers of Choice for Gender Equality in November, 2015. This followed an announcement earlier in the year of its flexible work policy and the launch of the ANZ Women initiative with new measures for superannuation and advice to improve women’s financial wellbeing.

“Over time, we believe these new measures will help improve the financial security of women at ANZ by directly targeting the areas of advice, superannuation and financial education,” said then ANZ Wealth chief executive Joyce Phillips, at the time.

In fact, WGEA research found one fifth of employers had a gender-equality strategy, were conducting more analysis of pay gaps and were more supportive of flexible working and such matters as domestic violence.

“I’m encouraged to see pay gaps inching lower, women’s representation in leadership roles inching higher and leading employers start to dismantle the structural and cultural barriers to women and men’s equal participation at all levels of the workplace,” says Lyons.

Judging the gender gap

  • 24% gender pay gap in favour of men (average full-time total remuneration), equivalent to $27,254 per year.
  • The gender pay gap (total remuneration) fell by 0.7 percentage points between 2013-14 and 2014-15.
  • Financial and insurance services maintained its position as the industry with the highest gender pay gap, though it fell by 1.1 percentage point to 35%.
  • Permanent full-time jobs in male-dominated industries declined, with 25,478 fewer jobs in mining and construction in 2014-15 than 2013-14.
  • 15.4% of CEOs and 27.4% of key management personnel were women.
  • Women held three out of four part-time jobs (75.1%).
  • 6.3% of management roles were part-time, compared with 22.7% of non-management roles.
  • Employers with a domestic violence policy and/or strategy grew from 32.2% to 34.9%.
  • 20.6% of employers had a gender equality strategy, compared with 18.3% in 2013-14.
  • 16.1% of organisations set targets for board composition.
Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency