Australia is a 'mid-range performer' across most gender equality measures, report finds

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Office workers head to Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne February 10, 2011.
Office workers head to Flinders Street Station in central Melbourne February 10, 2011. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

The median full-time working woman in Australia gets 87 cents to every man's dollar, a new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report shows. According to the report, the country is a “mid-range performer" across most gender equality measures.

According to the findings, the nation’s gender pay gap of 87 cents to each man's dollar was a little above the OECD average of 85.7 cents to the dollar. It states that local public and private sector must have stronger policies that will make it easier for both mothers and fathers to work, and will also include longer paid parental leave, out-of-school hours care, affordable childcare and tax incentives.

The new OECD research titled “The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle” examines gender imbalances among OECD nations. It recommends that Australia move to plug the gender wage gap, which can be done by tackling the major causes like women's higher likelihood of interrupting their careers for rearing a child and employer discrimination.

Educational performance

On average, young women have more years of schooling than young men. However, females are less likely to have paid work.

Young women here now make up 58.7 percent of all graduates from undergraduate degree programs. "Despite this strong educational performance, women are less likely than men to engage in paid work and continue to earn less," the report reads.

Women's pay and career advancement

It becomes worse with age, as motherhood usually has negative effects on women's pay and career advancement. The report confirms that women are less likely to be entrepreneurs. They are also under-represented in private and public leadership.

"Although Australian women are more likely than men to go to university, women are much less likely to study, and later work in, the lucrative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields," the report further says. Globally, females are more focused in service jobs where they tend to be paid less compared to technical roles.

Just 8.7 percent of women in Australia work in industry. The figure can be compared to 30.9 percent for men.

Opportunity for growth

Kathryn Fagg, Chief Executive Women president, said the report identifies "real opportunities for growing Australia's GDP through increasing female workforce participation,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Meanwhile, OECD chief of staff Gabriela Ramos said the pursuit of gender equality must be a priority in order to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth for the benefit of all.

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