Women’s economic equality a decade away

Hannah Higgins
(Australian Associated Press)


Australian women are still at least a decade away from achieving economic equality.

Data shows the pace of improvement for women in pay, work, education, leadership positions and superannuation is actually slower now than it was four years ago.

The figures released by the Financy Women’s Index on Wednesday reveal that, despite a 20-year-low in the nation’s gender pay gap and record numbers of women in full-time work and higher education, long-standing imbalances in labour force and superannuation are holding females back.

“Disappointingly the rate of progress in educational attainment is not being matched in the labour force, the superannuation gender gap remains too wide and female board appointments stalled in the second half of 2018,” Women’s Index founder Bianca Hartge-Hazelman said in a statement.

Official figures show the gender pay gap stands at 14.6 per cent for full-time workers, down from 15.3 per cent a year ago.

However, the gender gap in superannuation hasn’t gone anywhere – with women still falling 34 per cent short compared to men at retirement age.

While the FXW’s final scorecard for women recorded an overall 4.4 percentage point improvement in economic progress, experts say they are frustrated with the continued small gains.

“The Index reveals that Australia is screaming out for systematic change,” AFA Inspire’s national chair Kate McCallum said.

“In no other endeavour in business would we continue to invest so much precious time and energy into initiatives that gain so little traction in improving the pathways to women’s economic progress.”

On the basis of the current trends, it will be another decade until women achieve economic equality in Australia.

AMP Capital’s chief economist Shane Oliver says more needs to be done to support women in the workforce if society wants to see that change.

“We need to do more in making it easier for women to participate as much as they would like in the workforce and to ensure they receive all the same opportunities and rewards as men,” Dr Oliver said.


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