Updated April 12, 2018 08:48:57 Australia’s wage gap is closing fast, and now we’re seeing a significant increase in women earning more than men.
In 2016, the Bureau of Statistics (BIS) recorded a rise in women’s median hourly earnings over a one-year period from $23.50 to $23, with a rise of $5.55 for every dollar earned by a man.
This is a major shift in pay trends that could signal a tightening of the gender pay gap.
But, what does this mean for our future and our economy?
The answer is a bit of both.
The BIS data shows that the median wage of women increased from $24.80 in 2016 to $26.75 in 2017, a $1.90 increase for every cent earned by men.
But the wage gap remains.
According to the Australian Bureau of Census, women earned $12.75 less per hour in 2017 than men, and $15.90 less per year than men in the same period last year.
And that’s despite the fact that women hold less than 10 per cent of the workforce in Australia.
In the US, where the gender wage gap was not nearly as wide as it is here, the wage ratio of women is closer to 3.5 to 1, which is still very much in the middle of the pack.
It’s not just the gender gap that is widening in Australia; the proportion of women in the workforce has also risen in recent years, to 20.6 per cent, up from 18.5 per cent in 2020.
In 2020, the BIS estimated that the gender wages gap was expected to close by 2024.
And that was before the new laws introduced by the Government to address the gender inequality issue, including the new gender pay equity law and the Fair Work Commission.
And while it is clear that the Government is taking steps to close the gender imbalance, the real focus should be on how we’re raising the minimum wage and how we tackle the gender-based pay gap and discrimination in the workplace.
But why should we care about these numbers?
We all want the same thing, of course, which should be equal pay for equal work, but we should not assume that the same standard is applied to men and women, and we should take it upon ourselves to ensure that equal pay is actually applied to women and men equally.
The gender gap in pay should be addressed through an increase in the minimum and the maximum wage, which have been the focus of recent Government action.
The Federal Government is looking to double the minimum hourly wage to $25.50 by 2022, to $27.20 by 2022 and to $30 by 2022.
The Government is also committed to increasing the maximum hourly wage and minimum wage by an additional $5 per hour by 2022 in order to achieve a $25 per hour minimum wage.
This new minimum wage would raise the minimum for women by $6 per hour, and increase the maximum for men by $4 per hour.
And the Government has also announced that it will introduce a $15 per hour hourly wage by 2021.
The increase would increase the minimum to $17.20 per hour for women and $19.70 for men.
These measures are all welcome, but they are only part of the solution.
The second most significant piece of action the Government needs to take to close this gap is the introduction of the Fair Pay Act.
The Fair Pay act requires all companies to provide equal pay to all employees regardless of their gender.
And if the Government does not act to close our gender pay inequality gap by 2021, it will have failed to meet its 2020 target to close it by 2024, and will have a significant impact on women’s employment in Australia over the next decade.