- The finance and insurance sector in Australia has the second largest gender pay gap (23.6%) in the nation.
- In Australia, women hold 14.6% of chair positions, 28.1% of directorships, 32.5% of key management personnel, but are just 18.3% of CEOs.
- In the year to 30 September 2020, the number of female director appointments in New Zealand reached a record high of 43.
Compiled by Jordan Manning
The gender pay gap is real – and to be perfectly honest, we can’t believe we’re still talking about it. It’s more than 50 years since Australia’s 1969 Equal Pay Case, which set the principle of equal pay for equal work. Before that, Australian employers could pay women 75% what men earned for doing the same job.
It’s more than 60 years since New Zealand’s Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 abolished gender pay scales in NZ’s Public Service. By 1978, that principle applied across all parts of NZ’s private sector.
Women were harder hit during the COVID-19 lockdown than men. At the peak of the crisis, 8% of women and 4% of men in Australia lost jobs, reports the Grattan Institute. However, ironically, women’s labour increased. Women spent one hour more than men on unpaid labour such as supervising children’s remote learning, on top of their usual paid work and domestic duties.
Despite this, Australia ranks first on the US Women and Foreign Policy program’s Women’s Workplace Equality Index, ahead of Canada (no. 2) and New Zealand (no. 3).
Gender pay gap in Australia and New Zealand
The gender pay gap (total annual remuneration) between men and women working full-time in Australia’s financial and insurance services sector in 2019-20 was 23.6%. That means women in the sector earn 76.4 cents to the male dollar.
That compares to a gender pay gap (for full-time workers) in all sectors across Australia of 20.1% or A$25,534 a year.
In New Zealand, the gender pay gap is 9.3%, although a 2020 report from Strategic Pay found the gap to be almost double that. From a sample of more than 187,000 employees from 950 organisations in New Zealand, the analysis found an overall gender pay gap of 17.7%.
Gender pay gap by industry sector
Gender pay gap by industry, Nov 2019 – Nov 2020
(Australian full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings)
|Industry||Nov 2019 (%)||Nov 2020 (%)||Difference (from previous period)*|
|Professional, scientific and technical services||22.1||24.4||2.3|
|Financial and insurance services||22.2||23.6||1.4|
|Health care and social assistance
|Rental, hiring and real estate services
|Information media and telecommunications
|Administrative and support services
|Transport, postal and warehousing
|Education and training
|Accommodation and food services
|Electricity, gas, water and waste services
|Arts and recreation Services
|Public administration and safety
* A minus sign indicates the gender pay gap has decreased from the previous period. Source: Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics, Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Feb 2021.
Women on boards
Australian Institute of Company Directors figures reveal that in 2021, 32.9% of directors in the ASX 200 are female. In New Zealand, women make up 31.6% of directors of S&P/NZX 50 companies.
However, 30.2% of boards and governing bodies in Australia have no female directors. In contrast, only 0.4% have no male directors.
“30.2% of boards and governing bodies in Australia have no female directors. In contrast, only 0.4% have no male directors.”
In the year to 30 September 2020, the number of female director appointments in New Zealand reached a record high of 43 – representing more than 27% of all director appointments.
In Australia, women hold 14.6% of chair positions and 28.1% of directorships. They represent 18.3% of CEOs and 32.5% of key management personnel, according to 2019-2020 data from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
Women’s Workplace Equality Index
The Women’s Workplace Equality Index ranks nations according to factors including accessing institutions, building credit, getting a job, going to court, protecting women from violence, providing incentives to work and women’s ability to use property.
1 – Australia
2 – Canada
3 – New Zealand
4 – Spain
5 – Mexico
185 – Iran
186 – Sudan
187 – Qatar
188 – Syria
189 – Yemen
Source: Women and Foreign Policy program
Keeping married women in the kitchen
The ban on married women holding positions in Australia’s Commonwealth Public Service was in place until 18 November 1966. Introduced in the early 1900s, it was meant to stop women ‘stealing’ men’s jobs and to also boost the birth rate.
In New Zealand, it was a different experience. Due to the unemployment of young teachers, in 1931 the government allowed education boards to dismiss or not employ married women. However, the ‘marriage bar’ was no longer enforced from 1936 and was officially dropped in 1938.
Where are all the women?
In 2020, worldwide, more men (74%) than women (47%) participated in the labour force, according to United Nations research.
Global population (May 2020)
3.978 billion men (50.5%) 3.906 billion women (49.5%)
Women actively engaged in the labour market globally
82% of women in one-person households
64% of women in couple households
48% of women in couple households with children
Workforce in Australia
40.6% work full-time, 27.5% casual, 31.9% part-time
67.4% full-time, 21.8% casual, 10.8% part-time (AU)
Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Workforce in New Zealand
48% of NZ paid workforce is female
52% of NZ paid workforce is male
CA ANZ community
CA ANZ 128,683 members
Source: CA ANZ 2020 Annual Report
Mind the gap: Surprises in the 2021 Remuneration Report
2020 brought financial rewards for some accountants, but CA ANZ’s 2021 Remuneration Report reveals a worrying gender pay gap.Discover what other people are being paid
8 ways business leaders can fix the gender pay gap
Here’s what senior chartered accountants say is needed to make wages truly equal.Read more
5 reasons why there’s a gender pay gap (and what to do about it)
If equal pay is the law, why is there still a gender pay gap? Author Catherine Fox unpacks a few of the underlying issues.Read more