gender pay gap

The gender pay gap: What causes it and how do we address it?

Imagine earning $18,000 a year less just because of your gender. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The gender pay gap and its effects on working women in Australia is real. So, what causes it, and how can we address it?

The gender pay gap refers to the difference between men’s and women’s salaries, calculated by monitoring employees’ weekly or monthly average wage. A common misconception is that the gender pay gap is simply about men being paid more than women to do the same job. However, there is more to it than that. The gender pay gap also reflects the difference in earnings between men and women across a business, industry or even the whole country across their working lives.

In Australia, the gender pay gap is currently between 13 and 21%. Over a lifetime, this means women earn, on average, over a million dollars less than men. 

Hays Indeed and the ABC outline the causes of the gender pay gap and the steps we can take to address it.

Causes of the gender pay gap

Several factors influence the gender pay gap in Australia.

Gender divided roles

Female-dominated industries are often care related, such as teaching and nursing. These positions are often undervalued and usually pay less than male-dominated industries such as construction.  


There is bias around the type of roles women can do and their level of competency at performing certain tasks. Gender stereotypes also play a significant role. Discrimination during the hiring process can also lead to lower starting pay during salary negotiations for women.

Care Responsibilities

Social expectations and gender stereotypes see women take on extra unpaid caring duties such as looking after children or elderly parents. As a result, they often work part-time or take lengthy career breaks leading to a significant loss in earnings. 

Lack of women in leadership

Only 22% of CEOs in Australia are female. The absence of women in leadership positions reduces women’s roles in decision-making. Fewer women in leadership positions also means there are fewer female mentors for future leaders. 

So how do we fix it?

Firstly, it’s important to remember the onus should be on employers to close the gap not employees.

Having more women in leadership positions would help reduce the gender pay gap. Women who want to achieve senior roles should be supported and mentored.

Gender equality in the workplace and at home should be practiced. Discrimination is often unintentional. Therefore, workplaces should raise awareness of gender discrimination and how to prevent it.

Men and women should try to balance unpaid caring responsibilities more evenly.  Employers should support men who wish to take paternal leave.

However, it’s not all bad news. Positive progress is being made.

New legislation forces companies with over one hundred employees to publish their gender pay gap. Making this data public helps increase employers’ accountability and can give employees the tools and data they need to have workplace conversations.

While difficult, workplace conversations can also help address the gender pay gap.  Consider asking your boss what they are doing to address the gender pay gap. As a woman you can ask whether you are being paid equally.

To encourage further accountability, all businesses should publish their gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is a significant issue and will remain so for the foreseeable future. However, we can be encouraged that some positive steps forward are being taken.

market share challenge competitor

Public Service Resumes can assist you with finding your next role. We offer various services including a resume and cover letter writing service.