Discrimination against women in the workplace is still the largest factor contributing to the gender pay gap in Australia – and it’s only getting worse, according to a new report out today.
Research by advisory firm KPMG for the Diversity Council Australia and Workplace Gender Equality Agency, has found that “stubborn gender stereotypes about the roles men and women play in paid work and caring” continue to be the driving force behind the gender pay gap.
According to the She’s Price(d)less report, the gender pay gap is the equivalent of $445 million a week or $23 billion a year.
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The study found that gender discrimination accounted for almost two-fifths (39 percent) of the gender pay gap, while the combined impact of years not working due to interruptions, part-time employment and unpaid work contributed to 39 percent of the gender pay gap.
Interestingly, occupational and industrial segregation are still significant contributors to the gender pay gap at 17 percent.
KPMG Australia chairman Alison Kitchen said understanding the drivers of the gender pay gap is critical to designing interventions to close the gap.
“Evidence reflected in this report identifies the key drivers of Australia’s gender pay gap – gender discrimination, occupational segregation and years not working due to interruptions – such as child care and caring for elderly family members,” Ms Kitchen says.
“These findings provide crucial knowledge that can help government and business take action and build on the progress that has been made. Solving the challenge of Australia’s gender pay gap is not only fair and sensible, it’s an economically responsible endeavor.”
Diversity Council Australia CEO, Lisa Annese, said that despite the excellent work that many DCA members are undertaking to close the gap in their own organisations “structural inequalities and rigid gender-norms continue to diminish our capacity to provide pay equality across the economy.”
“We need to challenge ideas that the vast majority of caring responsibilities and housework should fall to women,” she said.
According to the report, potential solutions to closing the gap include increased pay transparency and reporting on gender pay gaps, improving work life balance, increasing availability of flexible work, changing workplace culture and addressing unconscious bias, increasing the share of women in leadership positions, including through targets or quotas or other diversity policies and breaking down social norms regarding what roles and industries are appropriate for men and women.