Brutal Consequences of Gender Pay Gap


The long term consequences of the gender pay gap are brutal. There is a direct connection between unequal pay and the rapidly escalating numbers of women aged 50+ becoming impoverished and homeless in Australia. 

It has been 50 years since equal pay was enshrined in law in Australia, and yet the pay gap appears to be enshrined in practice. The statistics confirm this, year after year.

This year however, we are able to learn not only of the range of the gap, but which companies are perpetuating it. 

This year is the first time individual companies have been named and their pay disparities between men and women disclosed as part of WGEA’s annual Employer Census. The Labor government changed the law to enable this groundbreaking transparency.

“Men continue to outstrip women in the salary stakes, with men’s median annual salary $11,542 greater than women’s, according to newly released data for Australian private companies. It’s a gap of 14.5%, down from last year’s 15.4%.

When bonuses and overtime are added – common for high-paying jobs mostly held by men – the gap in total remuneration widens to $18,461, equivalent to 19 per cent and hardly budging from the previous year’s 19.8 per cent.”

Naming and shaming is one way of exposing discrimination against women. It might strengthen the bargaining power of women to improve their pay. It could also apply pressure by channeling skilled female employees towards companies with better practices.

There are a number of factors that together entrench discrimination against women in the workforce. These include the concentration of women in low paid fields such as teaching and caring, time out of the workforce having children, part-time work due to caring for children or family members, and the prejudicial practices of advancing men over women to senior positions. These all need to be addressed. 

Unless they are, we will continue to have generations of working women ageing into poverty. This is why too many women in the workforce face a grim reality. They must be aware that despite leading exemplary lives dedicated to their work and their families, they are more likely than men to end up on society’s scrapheap.


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