Understanding Gender Pay Gap: A Closer Look at Disparities in Private & Public Sectors in Australia

By: GWL Team | Monday, 3 July 2023

The persistent fight for equality and fair treatment in the workplace is reflected in the problem of gender wage gap, which has long been a major concern globally. Despite substantial advancements in gender equality throughout the years, women still earn less than men do on average. The gender pay gap, a phenomenon, exposes institutional prejudices and structural impediments to women's economic emancipation.

The pay gap between women in the commercial and public sectors is one significant component of this difference. Despite advancements in gender equality, studies continually show that women tend to make less money working in the private sector than they do in the public sector. Promoting justice and correcting systemic inequities require an understanding of the mechanisms behind this disparity.

According to recent data, the gender pay gap for women working in the Australian private sector is larger than for women working in the Commonwealth public sector.

Gender Pay Gap Persists in the Private and Public Sectors, WGEA Reports

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), women in the private sector only make 77 cents on every dollar made by males. This contrasts with the public sector's gender equality rate of 88 cents on the dollar, according to a recent report by WGEA's Commonwealth Public Sector Gender Equality Snapshot.

 Initiatives in the Public Sector: Positive Signs and Remaining Challenges

This is a result of a gender pay difference in total compensation of 22.8% in the private sector and, for this sample, 11.6% in the Commonwealth public sector.

52 personnel from the Commonwealth's public sector voluntarily reported information for the WGEA's snapshot. This is the initial set of WGEA insights on how the industry is doing with regard to gender equality.

"What we can see from the 2022 Snapshot is an indication of overall trends that are likely to shape future reporting," said Mary Wooldridge, CEO of WGEA.

This helps policy makers, employers, and the general public understand gender equality in the Commonwealth public sector, according to the Snapshot.

The results, according to Wooldridge, were a positive sign of workplace initiatives to address gender equality, but more work need to be done.

"Policies like publicly-advertised salary levels, target setting, regular employee consultation, and comprehensive access to paid parental leave help the public sector lead in workplace gender equality," added the expert.

These findings also indicate that many of these initiatives have prioritised women over all other employees. This is especially true of parental and carer assistance. As a consequence, men are taking paid primary carer leave at a rate that is comparable to that of the private sector (13.5% in the public sector and 13% in the private sector).

Changes in gender stereotypes that continue to assign women unfair parenting responsibilities—a cultural norm that prevents women from participating in the workforce—are one way to move the dial on gender equality, according to Wooldridge.

According to this Snapshot, some companies could still view gender equality as a "women's issue." Nevertheless, "meaningful change necessitates a focus on enhancing the experiences of both men and women in the workplace."

Obligatory Reporting: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability

Employers in the Commonwealth's public sector with 100 or more workers will have to submit a gender equality report to WGEA starting on September 1 of this year. This is the outcome of the Respect@Work Report's suggestions.

According to Wooldridge, the WGEA will be able to produce an annual Scorecard, much like the private sector, thanks to this obligatory reporting. The Scorecard will monitor the reduction of the gender pay gap and, for the first time, compare the performance of the Commonwealth's public sector with that of the private sector.

Since over ten years ago, Wooldridge remarked, "We have used WGEA's world-class dataset to inform and drive gender equality change for women and men working in the private sector." "Recent legislative reform means that for the first time, we will add comprehensive insights on the Commonwealth public sector into the mix."

Equal Pay Day: Progress and Persistence

Additionally, WGEA revealed over the weekend that this year's Equal Pay Day will occur on August 25. Since the conclusion of the previous fiscal year, women have needed to work an extra 56 days on average in order to make the same amount of money as males as of this date.

Slow progress has been made during the previous four years, with just a shift from 59 days in 2019 to 56 days in 2023.