By Jessica Donaldson
Despite it being unlawful to pay women less than men for the same work, the gap between women’s and men’s pay has widened to an alarming $224 per week.
The pay difference today is the lowest seen since 1991, and feminist group 2020’s spokesperson Jenni Colwill says this has nothing to do with the global financial crisis. She explains “the biggest reason is people have taken their eye off the ball” and adds that all too often women are not even aware they are being paid less than their male counterparts in the same organisation.
Figures from a 2011 survey released by Graduate Careers show that pay rates for women graduates in most industries are slowly increasing compared with the increase in male graduates’ pay. However there still appears to be a handful of industries where male pay is increasing at such high rates women are never likely to catch up. Engineering, health, management and commerce are fields where the steady increase in male graduates pay regularly outstrips increases in women’s pay.
But don’t despair; help could be near at hand… The Minister for Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, is promoting new legislation that supports gender equality in the workplace. The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 passed through the House of Representatives in mid-June and will be passing through The Senate in the near future.
Ms Collins says the bill ‘focuses on equal remuneration, recognising that closing the gender pay gap is central to achieving equality’. She added, “an Australian woman on average still earns around 17 per cent less than a man and that gender pay gap remains one of the highest in three decades.’
Ms Collins believes the legislation makes a clear statement that true workplace equality is essential for a fair society and a strong economy, but as remuneration figures for women continue to worsen it seems like workplace equality may be a fair way off yet.
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