Australian women are still earning far less than men, despite a small narrowing of the gender wage gap over the last 12 months.
The annual Gender Equity Insights report, released in time for International Women’s Day, revealed the gap between men and women's salaries dropped from 23.9 per cent in 2015 to 23.1 per cent in 2016.
But researchers who worked on the report said that the change reflected the current downturn in the economy rather than any major improvement to the deeper imbalance between men’s and women’s earnings.
Factors such as the slowdown in the mining sector, in particular, will have affected the results, as fewer male employees are now enjoying the relatively high earnings that have been on offer in recent years.
The fact is that the wage gap has remained pretty much the same for decades.
It largely reflects the relatively low value put on much work typically performed by women, though obstacles to women’s advancement at higher levels of professional work are also a factor in the results.
The gender pay gap between top managers, for instance, was $93,000, a difference researchers said probably reflected “unconscious biases”.
The author of the report, Professor Alan Duncan said closing the gap would require a “fundamental look” at the way companies paid their staff. But is also requires, among other things, a fundamental rethink of the notion that “women’s work” is intrinsically of lower value than men’s.