Australia’s gender pay gap is diminishing, says a new report, but some contributors to it seem harder to overcome than others. For me, the finding hit close to home.
The report, by KPMG for the Diversity Council of Australia and Workplace Gender Equality Council, says the pay gap declined from $3.05 an hour in 2014 to $2.43 in 2017. Women on average now earn A$31.14 an hour compared with A$33.57 for men.
The report breaks down the economics to some very specific factors. Overall, two-thirds of the decline is credited to diminishing industrial and occupational segregation.
Proving harder to erode is “gender discimination” (which the report defines as that portion of the pay gap unexplained by other factors) and the impact of career interruptions. For women, time out of the workforce is generally to care for young children or other family members, the report states, with such interruptions being “gendered and highly persistent”.https://www.dropbox.com/s/ap0fjkf0gly1hko/Screenshot%202019-08-22%2011.56.58.png?dl=0
As an academic, working architect and chair of a national committee for gender equity, I’ve been engaged with discussions and research about what holds women back in their careers. The data shows many women leave the profession in the their late twenties or thirties and never return. This is hardly unique.
There is a lot of talk about what can be done through government and corporate policy to welcome women back to the workforce. That’s all good, but I’ve also been thinking about how we can address the issue more holistically.
I have been reflecting on the sudden gender divide that happened when I gave birth to my first child. My husband and I had gone to university together and worked together. We both considered ourselves fierce feminists. Yet when we started our family it was an almost instant shift to gendered roles: I gave up full-time work, and he stayed in full-time work.
At the time if seemed the efficient thing to do. We both thought it was just a phase. But it has been harder to shift than we first imagined.
I see four traps we can easily fall into at home and work that reinforce the gender pay gap.
Authors: The Conversation