It’s no secret that a salary gap exists between male and female workers in Australia. Some say this is because male-dominated industries such as mining or engineering tend to be better paid than those traditionally dominated by women (hospitality, retail, healthcare). Others point to the fact that far fewer women work full time than men. Either way, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research may come as a surprise: working women are slightly more likely than their male counterparts to rate their pay as good…
There are currently just over 5 million women in the workforce, or 51.7% of all Australian women aged 14+. Those who work full time account for 46.8% of the female workforce (33.5% of the total full-time workforce); those working part-time comprise 53.2%.
Just over half of all women in paid employment (50.3%) consider their pay to be good, compared with 48.8% of male workers. Indeed, women tend to be marginally more satisfied than men with their jobs on several fronts, as the chart below illustrates.
How women and men feel about their jobs
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2013 – December 2013 (n=9,141).
Representing just 3.3% of the female workforce, women aged 65 or older are the most content with their pay: 61.2% of them rate it as good. They also rank well ahead of their younger colleagues in terms of job security and recognition, as well as overall job satisfaction: 91.4% of them are satisfied with their jobs— which, considering they could have retired by now if they wanted, is only to be expected!
Just starting out
In contrast, just 52.5% of working women under 25 feel secure in their jobs, but this doesn’t stop 77.4% of them being satisfied at work. Many of them are still studying, hence the high proportion in part-time positions. Close to the national female average for satisfaction with job recognition and pay, they’re the most satisfied age group with their job opportunities, probably because at this early stage of their careers, the only way is up.
Australia’s female workforce under the microscope
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2013 – December 2013 (n=4,803). Base: women 14+ in paid employment
Young and dissatisfied
Young women between 25 and 34 are the least satisfied (72.5%) with their jobs, possibly due to their relatively low satisfaction with the recognition they receive at work (52.8% — the lowest of all age groups) or their somewhat pessimistic outlook on job security (less than half rate their job security as good).
The middle years
Heading towards the midpoint of their careers, women between the ages of 35 and 49 tend to be satisfied with most aspects of their jobs. Second only to the 65+ age group when it comes to job satisfaction, job recognition and pay rating, these women comprise the largest portion of Australia’s female workforce. However, their satisfaction with opportunities at work is noticeably lower than their younger counterparts, a trend that continues with age.
Thinking about the future
Ahead of the female average in job security (54.2% rating it as good), and bang on average for job satisfaction, women aged between 50 and 64 are noticeably less satisfied when it comes to their pay. Less than half (46%) believe their pay is good, with one in five going so far as to say it’s poor. With the prospect of retirement on the horizon, it’s only natural that they’d be concerned with their salary (and by association, their savings and superannuation).
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“Our findings reveal that female workers are more likely than their male counterparts to be satisfied with their job, content with their pay, and feel secure in their employment.
“This raises the question of whether women have been conditioned to have lower expectations and taught to keep the peace, rather than demand better conditions on the job. Would these results be different if more women were working full time?
“The fact that men comprise two-thirds of Australia’s full-time workforce speaks volumes about the challenges women face when trying to build a career for themselves. Raising a family continues to take many women out of the workforce for years. Of all women with kids at home, only 23.5% of them are in full-time employment (compared to 25.3% on ‘home duties’).
“The questions these results raise are not limited to female workers. Employers would also do well to note that, while job satisfaction levels are fairly healthy for men and women, factors such as satisfaction with job recognition and opportunities show clear room for improvement. Furthermore, only half of the workforce rates their pay as good: surely cause for some concern.”
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Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
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