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  • Norine Cruse

Women in the workforce and leadership in Australia


The Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency released a 1 page (+ 1 page footnote) document in August 2018 entitled ‘Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance’.

It’s worth more than just a glance. I am not a great supporter of statistics for the sake of it, and I support the premise of ‘best person for the job’ regardless of gender, but these figures just don’t pass the pub test.

I’m trying not to make assumptions here but, let me quote from this document analysing 2016 - 2017 figures with some real time figures.

According to this Aust. Govt. fact sheet women comprise 47.0% of all employed persons in Australia. What does that equate to?

Education versus remuneration

  • Of all women aged 20-24, 91.6% have attained year 12 qualifications or above, compared to 88.7% of men in the same age bracket.

  • Of all women aged 25-29, 39.9% have achieved a bachelor degree or above, compared to 30.9% of similarly-aged men.

OK, so can we assume women in the workforce are marginally more educated?

  • The full-time average weekly ordinary earnings for women are 14.6% less than for men.

  • The average undergraduate starting salaries for women are 1.8% less than for men. This

gap widens to 16.5% for postgraduate (coursework) graduates.

Now I know there is a gender pay gap, but is this telling me the more a woman educates herself, the greater the pay gap? Surely not?

Women in leadership

  • Women hold 13.7% of chair positions and 24.9% of directorships, represent 16.5% of CEOs and 29.7% of key management personnel.

  • Nearly three-quarters (70.9%) of reporting organisations have a male-only team of key management personnel.

Women aspiring to leadership positions could be excused for feeling a touch underwhelmed by these figures taking into account they are 47% of the working population, on average are slightly better educated but more often than not don’t get the leadership guernsey.

ASX hasn’t performed well on behalf of women.

  • 28.2% of directors in the ASX 200 are women (July 2018).

  • Women comprised 50% of new appointments to ASX 200 boards in 2018 (as at 31 July).

Maybe things are improving with 50% of new appointments to ASX boards in 2018 being women,

however given that women comprise 47% of the workforce, this figure is unremarkable.

What can I take away from this?

The Aust Govt document itself displays a light bulb logo.

It might be a light bulb moment for some, but not for most of the female workforce. Another statistic quoted says it all ‘Average superannuation balances for women at retirement (aged 60-64) are 42.0% lower than those for men.’

So whatever I take away from this glance it’s certainly not equality in financial security.

Statistics from: www.wgea.gov.au Workplace Gender Equality Agency


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