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2011 Media Release: Equal pay still on the agenda after all these years

Discrimination Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said today that Equal Pay Day was extremely important given that, in 2011, a significant pay gap of 17.2% still exists between men and women.

“Pay inequality is an important issue for all enterprises, large and small, public and private, so we all need to be taking action to reduce the gender pay gap,” Commissioner Broderick said.

The gender pay gap measures the difference between male and female earnings as a percentage of male earnings.

“Some of the key causes of the gender pay gap include the different types of work that women tend to be employed in compared to men, the low value placed on much of that work, the lack of investment in women through training and stereotypical views about women’s abilities and roles,” said Commissioner Broderick. “We need to change this picture because it is unforgiveable that such attitudes continue to exist and to disadvantage women.”

Commissioner Broderick said that the issue of undervaluing the sectors in which women work, such as social work and disability services, lies at the centre of the gender pay gap in Australia.

In handing down its interim decision this year in the equal pay test case brought by the Australian Services Union and others under the new Fair Work Act 2009, Fair Work Australia recognised that, “for employees in the Social and Community Services sector, there was not equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal or comparable value by comparison with state and local government employment”.

“The gender pay gap also affects women’s economic security because women, on average, have less lifetime earnings compared to men and this becomes a serious issue, especially during retirement,” Ms Broderick said. “Statistics have shown that retired men aged 55 and 64 years have around 1.7 times the disposable weekly income of retired women in the same age group.”

The date of Equal Pay Day is symbolic – it represents the extra number of days that women will have to work in order to match the amount earned by men in that financial year.

“Women will have to work 63 extra days to gain the same amount of pay this year, reflecting the 17.2% pay gap compared to male earnings,” said Commissioner Broderick. “This means that today, women still only earn around 83 cents in the male dollar.”

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529.