The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, Pledge for Parity, can be applied to women’s status in social, economic, cultural and political spheres. In recognition of this important day (8 March) and its message, Roy Morgan Research crunched the numbers to assess the current state of gender parity in the Australian workforce. The results reveal that there is still room for improvement.
But first the good news: in the 12 months to January 2016, 54.5% of Australian women were employed, up from 52.5% in the year to January 2006. This increase can be seen in the proportion of women employed part time (26.2%, up from 25.7%) and full time (28.3%, up from 26.8%).
On the other hand, the proportion of employed men has fallen slightly over this period (from 66.8% to 65.6%), driven by a decrease (from 54.6% to 51.0%) in those working full time.
Obviously, with such a discrepancy in the proportions of men and women in full-time employment, many occupations are affected by a dramatic gender imbalance. For example, 6.5% of Aussie men and 3.1% of women work full-time in jobs that fall under the ‘Professionals’* category; 12.2% of men and 6.5% of women hold managerial* roles; and 11.1% of men and 1.4% of women are employed as skilled workers*.
The only areas in which women outnumber men are the ‘Clerks/Typists’* (7.0% vs 5.0%) and ‘Semi-professional’* (5.1% vs 3.4%) categories.
Occupational categories: % of men vs % of women working fulltime in each
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), February 2015 – January 2016 (n=50,212).
The salary situation
Not only are women under-represented in most occupational categories, our data confirms that they also tend to earn less than their male colleagues.
The ‘Professionals’ category is a case in point. Whereas 9.9% of men employed full-time in jobs within this category earn $200,000 or more per annum, only 3.3% of full-time women do. Within the same category, 9.0% of men and 5.5% of women earn between $150,000 and $199,999, while 7.3% of men and 7.1% of women earn between $130,000 and $149,999.
Among the lower salary echelons (under $70,000), however, this pattern reverses, with women featuring more prominently. Whereas 8.2% of men employed full-time as Professionals earn between $60,000 and $69,999, that figure rises to 13.5% of women.
Annual incomes: men vs women employed full-time in same occupations
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), February 2015-January 2016 (n=17,650).
Similar salary disparity exists in other occupational categories, with full-time Managerial roles being another glaring example. The gulf between the proportion of male and female managers earning high-end salaries is a case in point: 12.0% of men and 3.9% of women employed full-time as managers earn $200,000+, while 11.2% and 5.7% respectively earn $150,000-$199,999.
When it comes to lower salary ranges, the tables are turned once more: 21.7% of female managers and 10.5% of male managers earn between $60,000 and $69,999, for instance.
Even within the ‘Semi-professional’ category, in which more women than men are employed full time, the salary bias is in favour of male employees.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The issue of gender parity in the workforce is a complex and contentious topic, with no cut-and-dried solutions and plenty of issues that warrant further investigation and discussion. The fact that men in full-time employment outnumber women so resoundingly is one of these issues, seeing as it results in women being woefully under-represented in some professions. How to achieve a more even gender balance in the workforce is a question that employers and government must address for starters, potentially exploring better child-care options for working mothers, for example, as well as flexible working hours and conditions.
“Furthermore, there is no logical reason why women and men employed full-time in the same occupation should be paid different salaries. Yet Roy Morgan Research’s latest data confirms that this is often the case, which, while not surprising (this is a topic which attracts widespread media coverage, after all) is not exactly encouraging or understandable, either.
“Although these findings are top-level breakdowns of occupational categories rather than specific professions, they still speak volumes about salary discrepancies between male and female full-time workers in related fields, in which men outnumber women in the higher income ranges and women outnumber men in the lower ranges.
“In conclusion? International Women’s Day’s theme for 2016, ‘Pledge for Parity’ rings very true for the Australian workforce indeed…”
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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