opinion

It's 2016 - but women are still earning 17 per cent less than men.

Women now make up 42 per cent of the Australian workforce – yet we’re still being financially disadvantaged at every stage of our lives, from childhood to retirement.

This depressing finding was revealed in a new report released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) this week.

Image via iStock.

The Gender Pay Gap - Over the Life Cycle report found that financial discrimination against women begins in childhood, with girls receiving 11 per cent less pocket money than boys. Meanwhile, less than one in 20 girls will consider a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) compared to one in five boys.

The gender pay gap then continues into adulthood, with Aussie women earning $284.20 less per week than men.

Depressingly, women now earn less on average compared to men than they did two decades ago, with 70 per cent of part time work now being done by women.

While 60 per cent of women will graduate from university, female post-graduates earn just 82 per cent of the their male peers. Just 24 per cent of  Australian Board Directors and 17 per cent of Chief Executives are female.

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Image via iStock.
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Things get worse for women once they enter their childbearing years, with all women (mothers and non-mums alike) earning 40 per cent less than men during the ages of 25 to 44.

Women also spend twice as longer doing unpaid work as men, and women returning from maternity leave after the birth of their first child will "suffer a wage penalty of 7 per cent in their first year", with one in three mothers who are discriminated against eventually resigning.

Once we reach our golden years, women on average will retire on $138,150 compared with $292,500 for men, while 60 per cent of women aged between 65-69 have no super at all.

Most tragic of all - it is believed that 38.7 per cent of single women will retire in poverty.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the findings were disturbing.

“In 2016, the findings in today’s report are just overwhelming. Young girls are still disadvantaged, women in the workplace are presented with constant barriers and older women face a poor retirement, possibly a retirement into poverty," he said.

Image via iStock.

“A girl receiving 11 per cent less pocket money than a boy is a simple indicator that we can all begin to make things fairer in our families. But when 60 per cent of women aged between 65-69 years retire with no super, 70 per cent of workers in the lowest paid occupations are women and just 17 per cent of Australian CEOs are women, this shouts out that we have major problems to tackle," he said.

The union is now calling for a government funded parental leave scheme of 26 weeks paid at no less than the national minimum wage plus superannuation, 15 hours of free childcare for every child per week for all families and the right to request flexible work arrangements that clearly set out an employer’s obligations to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests.

Let's hope they succeed.

Have you been financially discriminated against? 

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