By Eliza Laschon.
Australia’s gender pay gap has narrowed slightly — including those in top-tier managing roles — but only because of an economic downturn, according to researchers.
The annual Gender Equity Insights report revealed the gap between men and women’s salaries dropped from 23.9 in 2015 to 23.1 per cent in 2016.
The data was collected by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) from more than 12,000 employers and 4 million employees, then analysed by the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre (BCEC).
The gender pay gap typically rises with upturns in the economy but drops as the economy falls, report author BCEC director Professor Alan Duncan said.
“We are more in a cyclical downturn than necessarily a structural shift in the way that men and women are renumerated in Australia,” he said.
The report also revealed the pay gap between top-tier female and male managers had narrowed slightly from $100,000 to $93,000.
“The gap is exacerbated by the greater access to discretionary pay, performance bonuses and the like amongst top-tier managerial men than women,” Professor Duncan said.
“We do see that unconscious biases appear to prefer to remunerate men, rather than women even though there are equal capabilities across gender.”
Unequal pay starts young
The report found men entering the workforce out of graduate programs were being awarded 2.9 per cent more on a base salary than their female counterparts.
That gap increased up to 8 per cent for higher-earning graduates.
“It was a result that was surprising to us,” Professor Duncan said.
“Our expectation was that the level of graduate trainee pay should remain pretty fixed given that men and women are recruited onto the same programs at the same point in time, and should have the capacity to progress at the same rates.