Industry and Government hold the power to improve gender equity across Australia
Gender segregation in workplaces across all industries has contributed to a continued pay gap across the country, according to the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.
The Gender Equity Insights 2022 report found that the overall gender pay gap was not caused primarily by salary differences between men and women within specific industry sectors, but that the concentration of men in higher salary sectors and women in sectors with lower pay was the main cause.
According to the report, Western Australia had the highest pay gap between men and women at 26.8 per cent because of the gender concentration in many of the State’s highest-paying industries.
“Gender pay gaps will persist if more women work in lower-paid industry sectors and more men than women work in industry sectors that pay high salaries,” the report said.
“To make more headway in reducing overall gender pay gaps, we need to understand not just the different gender concentrations across industry sectors, but also the underlying reasons for such differences to have emerged.
“We find that Australia’s overall gender pay gap can be reduced by up to one-third,
if all industry sectors and occupations comprised at least 40 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men.”
It said that a focus on policies and practices related to recruitment, retention, and promotion to be conscious and consistent in promoting a greater equality of opportunity for women in securing roles across all industries would help improve gender equity.
The global energy transition presents an opportunity for greater gender equity in the energy sector.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the solar photovoltaic sector has a 40 per cent share of women working full-time jobs, which is almost double the share in the wind industry, at 21 per cent, and oil and gas, at 22 per cent.
However, the majority of this employment is in administration roles, with relatively few women working in STEM-related jobs.
ARENA’s Solar PV Gender Perspective report said that this was largely due to barriers around perceptions of gender roles, lack of fair and transparent policies, and cultural and social norms that shape behaviour.
“Renewable energy, as a younger and more dynamic sector, represents an opportunity for change,” the report said.
“Addressing the complex issues women face will require raising gender awareness, improving national policies and removing restrictive laws, establishing better workplace practices, policies, and regulations, and forming networks and systems to support training and mentorship.”
At the Jobs and Skills Summit held in September, the Federal Government committed to reducing barriers to employment and promoting equal opportunities for Australians.
Immediate actions included strengthening existing reporting standards to require employers with 500 or more employees to commit to measurable targets to improve gender equality in their workplaces and requiring businesses with 100 employees or more to publicly report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said that attracting more women to the resources sector would help with industry-wide labour shortages.
“The resources sector remains one of the most male-dominated industries in Australia,” Minister King said.
“Improving female representation in the industry – at all levels and across a range of roles – means a commitment to ensuring every worker in the sector is treated with respect in the workplace.
“It is essential that we protect the safety of workers in the resources sector – both physical safety and their mental health.”