finance

1 in 3 women believe they are being underpaid at work. Here are their stories.

At this moment, the gender pay gap between men and women stands at 14.2 per cent. Simply put: women earn on average $261.50 per week less than their male counterparts. In Australia, women also pay double what men do for health insurance: bizarre right?

Pair these stats with the Mamamia Money Survey, and it's clear to see that a lot of women feel they are being underpaid in their current occupation.

According to the Mamamia Money Survey data, one in three women believe they deserve a higher pay rate, for various reasons we will soon discover below!

Watch: Four money hacks that don’t cut out your daily cup of coffee! Post continues below.


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So, we asked our Mamamia audience in this aforementioned survey: do you think you are being paid fairly for your current role? If not, why?

We have also pieced their completely candid and anonymous responses together with a little intel on their income, hours and lifestyle.

Here are their stories:

A 29-year-old tax accountant works part-time, earning $36,700 per year, and lives with her partner at home.

“I’m not being paid enough. One of my bosses admitted to myself and another fellow staff member that my ‘bonus’ of $1000 will ‘help cover what I was underpaid’. So frustrating. I didn’t say anything though, as I was only a couple of weeks from starting maternity leave. Didn’t want to rock the boat.”

A 39-year-old financial controller works full-time, earning $173,000 per year, and lives with her partner at home.

“I perform an executive-level financial controller and HR role: I am only paid for just one of those roles. I believe I am worth another $25k to $40k at least.”

A 36-year-old teacher's aide works part-time, earning $17,000 per year, and lives with her partner at home.

“I only get minimum wage. I should be paid far more, given I work with kids who have a disability, and it can be a very physically and mentally draining role. Some of these kids also unfortunately have behavioural issues, meaning us teacher aides are often at risk of physical abuse by some of the students.”

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A 34-year-old photographer works full-time, earning $74,000 per year, and lives with her partner at home.

“I am paid less than my colleagues doing the exact same job as me. I asked for a pay rise to match my other colleagues, but was told no: that my performance and output ‘was one of the best in the team’ but because I ‘don’t have enough experience, I am being paid less’.”

A 33-year-old education support officer works full-time, earning $65,000 per year, and is single living with her children at home.

“Because my role has changed so much from when I first started, I’m now doing myself what three other people used to do. I think I should be paid at least an extra $10,000 a year.”

A 39-year-old channel manager in the media industry works full-time, earning $120,000 per year, and is living alone.

“I’ve doubled my responsibilities in the last two years and have achieved all my targets with no salary increase or recognition. It’s a high-risk position working in the media sphere that I do, but I am not paid to cover those risks.”

A 42-year-old financial controller works full-time, earning $180,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“It probably has to do with my gender. I’m female and when I got the job, I didn’t ask for too much, so now I do get paid a lot less than my male colleagues who actually report to me. But it’s a hard conversation to have, and ultimately I earn a very good wage comparable to the average Australian: I feel bad to complain.”

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A 29-year-old museum and gallery officer works full-time, earning $67,000 per year, and is living alone.

“In my role I work a lot of extra hours and I often take on a lot of additional responsibilities. I’m way overqualified for my current position, so I do think I deserve more money.”

A 37-year-old physiotherapist works full-time, earning $77,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“The industry standard for my experience is approximately $15k higher than what I am currently being paid. Unfortunately, in professional sport there isn’t much recognition of that industry standard. So often, we are paid minimum wages ‘for the privilege of working in pro sport’ and the perks that come with it.”

A 32-year-old veterinarian works full-time, earning $90,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“Vets are really underpaid given we have to complete a five-year medical degree. This is an industry-wide problem, I think worsened by the fact that it is a female-dominated industry: and as we all know, women often earn less than men.”

A 38-year-old hairdresser works part-time, earning $37,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“Since I’m a permanent part-time employee, I feel like I usually work more than the hours I’m actually paid for. I also feel like my value isn’t properly represented by my wage. Not to mention due to the year’s lockdowns, I saw my income reduced by 20 per cent earlier in the year and that has had a knock-on effect.”

A 44-year-old university educator works casual/contract hours, earning $75,000 per year, and she lives alone.

“It’s annoying: they use my educational background and experience for three days a week, but I am only being paid full teacher rates for two days. It’s not right.”

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A 44-year-old registered nurse works full-time, earning $85,000 per year, and is single living with her children at home.

“Nurses are overworked and underpaid. We are lucky to get breaks and aren’t paid for them anyway! We don’t get hazard pay for working directly with positive COVID patients as well.”

A 47-year-old production worker in the printing industry works part-time, earning $35,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“I’m 47 years old, I have over three years with the company, have learned a lot during this time and I am a multitasker: I still only earn $22.43 per hour.”

A 37-year-old legal assistant works full-time, earning $65,400 per year, and is living alone.

“I’m often given more work as I’m ‘more senior/experienced’ but I’ve never been given a pay rise above the standard. I feel I should receive at least $5k more per year than what I’m currently on, given I do more paralegal type work than assistant work, which will also be in line with other top tier firms.”

Listen to What The Finance: Side-hustles and pay-rises and how to do it well. Post continues after audio.


A 37-year-old high school teacher works full-time, earning $93,000 per year, and is living alone.

“Given I am a full-time teacher, I think not only I, but all teachers, deserve more. We only get paid for 25 hours per week. But I work 40-50 hours.”

A 34-year-old department manager at a supermarket works full-time, earning $75,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“Amid this year’s lockdowns, supermarkets were trading 40 per cent up and not receiving any incentives or funds for the extra work I was performing. Overtime should be getting paid.”

A 32-year-old nurse works full-time, earning $80,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“Nursing is an undervalued profession, there are many complexities involved in the job. Even with the pandemic and the need for good quality nurses being highlighted I do not see this changing. As to how much extra I think I deserve? How long is a piece of string! Overall, I think the wage rate for nurses should be comparable to other careers that require three years at university, plus ongoing education and a high-risk environment.”

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A 36-year-old registered nurse works part-time, earning $61,000 per year, and is living alone.

“I only make decent money for working penalties (nights, weekends, overtime, double shifts). And in reality, it doesn’t make up for the abuse (verbal/physical/emotional), stress, sleep disturbances I have experienced as a result of the job.”

A 27-year-old property services manager in the healthcare industry works full-time, earning $110,000 per year, and is living with her partner at home.

“I recently found out my male ‘equal’ colleague is paid 20 per cent more than me. I did ask for equal pay as I was the only one whose work was considered ‘exceeding’. Unfortunately, I was told no for the following reasons: 1) how would it look given my male colleague is older than I am. 2) the perceived level of differing experience between my male colleague and myself (just FYI, I am the only one with a degree and I have six years more hands-on experience than him). And 3) there’s too much of a difference to make up for in money. My work performance was never mentioned in the review."

Listen to The Quicky. Fixing the gender pay gap is possible: here's how. Post continues after audio.


A 28-year-old customer service representative in student accommodation works part-time, earning $28,000 per year, and is single living with her children at home.

“We are expected to work basically any time of day, any day of the year. We have to deal with serious issues like self-harm and suicide attempts, as well as issues like burst sewer pipes and building fires. For these reasons, I do think I’m worth more.”

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