Sydney experts explain what we can do to close the gender pay gap

27 August 2020
Gender and work experts from the Women & Work Research Group on this year's pay gap

28 August was Equal Pay Day, marking the 59 extra days from the end of the financial year that women have to work to earn the same annual average wage as men. So what is the gender pay gap and how might we close it? Sydney experts explain.

What is the gender pay gap?

Jobs in female-dominated industries like teaching have been critical throughout the coronavirus pandemic, explained Dr Meraiah Foley. 

The national gender pay gap is calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

For the first six months of 2020 (until May 2020), the national gender pay gap is 14 percent for full-time employees, meaning Equal Pay Day falls on 28 August 2020.

This represents an average of $253.60 a week extra that is paid to men compared to women.

Why does the gender pay gap persist?

“We know that the persistent undervaluation of feminised work is a key driver of the gender pay gap," said Dr Meraiah Foley, Deputy Director of the Women & Work Research Group.

"The jobs that women predominantly do in our society are too often among the lowest paid. This includes jobs that have been critical throughout the coronavirus pandemic, such as aged care, child care, retail and pharmacy work.”

How could we close the gender pay gap?

“This year has highlighted the absolutely critical role of many feminised occupations," said Professor Rae Cooper, Co-Director from the University of Sydney Business School's Women & Work Research Group.

"A recent Essential Poll showed that most Australians believe these workers deserve more pay. This would be an important first step towards closing the gender pay gap.”

Why fixing the gender pay gap is vital for economic recovery

"The current economic downturn is hitting women harder than men, affecting their long-term earnings, superannuation and economic security.

"Addressing the gender pay gap is more crucial than ever,” said Professor Marian Baird, Co-Director of the Women & Work Research Group.

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