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Equal Pay Day 2015

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Media Release - Gender Pay Gap Results (4 September 2015)

Today Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Anne Gale, welcomed Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day marks how many extra days women in Australia have to work from the end of the financial year to earn the same as men.

"A sense of urgency must be created to address the national wage gap. More women in leadership positions is essential to close the gap. Women continue to be underrepresented in the most senior levels and the rate of progress is too slow," the Commissioner said.

"Further, women continue to do most of the primary caring. Greater sharing of these roles by men and women, along with flexible work will assist women to access more senior roles.

“This year the pay gap in Australia fell from 18.2 per cent to 17.9 per cent. However, the pay gap in 2014 was at the highest it had ever been since we began collecting data and the first time it went above 18 per cent. In this context 17.9 per cent is not as significant an achievement as it appears. It is still unacceptably high for Australia.”

Since Equal Pay Day last year, South Australia Chiefs for Gender Equity, led by the Commissioner, have committed to undertaking annual gender pay gap audits to assess their progress and adopt initiatives to improve.

The Chiefs are also conducting engagement forums with their staff, business and the community to identify what needs to change to improve gender equity in their business and in South Australia.

This year the pay gap for South Australia is 10.8 per cent from 16.1 per cent in 2014 and is the lowest in the country. Over the past few years SA’s gender pay gap has fluctuated. For example, last year’s pay gap was 16.1 per cent in 2013 it was at its highest at 16.4 per cent but slightly lower in 2012 at 14.8 per cent.

“This year’s 5.3 percentage point drop for South Australia appears to be a positive change but it is too early to know exactly what has happened. Changes in participation rates in certain sectors may have had an impact, but more analysis is needed,” Ms Gale said.

“There are many variables that constitute the pay gap. Importantly, the measures tell us that work assigned to women as socially acceptable in caring professions such as teaching and nursing, skew the statistics because they are remunerated less.

“While this indicates a structural problem in the how work is valued, for example engineering pays more, even within the caring industries women are paid less than men. This is very concerning.”

Corporate Sustainability Australia, Director Caroline Holmstrom says there is an interesting link between social and cultural norms in understanding the pay gap.

“We are able to see what we perceive to be women’s work and the role of women in society but we when we look at unconscious bias we are really talking about the cultural norms that are part of the invisible power structures that we take for granted,” Ms Holmstrom said.

“This is the real issue in understanding inequality.”

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