Australia is 50 years away from closing gender pay gap

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Couple watching the sunset
A couple watch a sunset near a lake in Putrajaya December 22, 2008 Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad

A government agency has warned that Australia’s gender pay gap could stay for another 50 years. This means men could continue to be paid more than women, unless changes are made.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has been collecting data on gender gap for years. It has warned that the issue could not be solved overnight.

Anticipating a timeline for change was difficult, according to Workplace Gender Equality Agency boss Elizabeth Lyons. She said the agency was not capable to do this change yet. Lyons, however, cited research by global law firm White & Case. The study has warned that United States, Italy and France might need to wait 100 years before these countries could finally achieve gender pay equality.

Lyons told a Senate inquiry it is highly likely that a gender pay gap favouring men will remain a constant feature for the Aussie economy for years to come, based on the existing data. Recent data has estimated the number of years for the gender pay gap to end across several nations, including Australia.

It is estimated in new analysis that the country is 50 years away from closing the pay gap. Some countries might even need to wait 300 years before the issue could be resolved. The latest Australian Public Service Remuneration Report found last month that female employees in public service are paid on average 8.6 percent less compared to male counterparts and below the 19.6 percent private sector pay gap.

Based on a WGEA report, the gap between men and women's income dropped from 23.9 percent in 2015 to 23.1 percent in 2016. The report was published in March.

The data was based on over 12,000 employers and 4 million employees. The Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre analysed the data. Lauren Rosewarne from the Melbourne University School of Social and Political Sciences said the pay gap data was alarming but not surprising.

The report also indicated that the pay gap between top-tier female and male managers had narrowed from $100,000 to $93,000.The federal public service has devoted significant resources to improve gender equality. These include cultural training and blind recruitment.

Swinburne University's Department of Social Sciences’ Lara Corr said that paying female employees for a position will cost the business more, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. But she pointed out plenty of evidence that workplaces with more females in senior positions are more successful companies overall.

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