Middle-aged women earning $40,000 a year less than men
Australian women in senior executive and chief executive roles at age 55 and over will take home $93,000 less per year than their male counterparts, new data shows.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency conducted Wages and ages: Mapping the gender pay gap by age data series and revealed that men outearn women across every generation, peaking at 55-64, where men outearn women by 31.9%, or more than $40,000 on average per year.
The report suggests that if current trends continue, millennial women in the workforce will earn just 70% of men's salaries by the time they reach age 45.
WGEA director Mary Wooldridge says working millennial women aged 35 and under are currently reaching management levels at equal rates as men.
"We have a generation of Australian women who are highly educated, and over the last decade, have been outnumbering men in higher education enrolments and completion," she says.
"If organisations want to unlock the potential that these women can provide after the age of 35, there needs to be a shift in workplace structures surrounding them. Creative workplaces will reap the talent rewards today and in the future."
The data further revealed that less than 50% of women at all ages are in the workforce full-time; this impacts women in management positions and further accentuates the pay gap.
In 2021, at no age were more than 50% of women working full-time, yet higher-paid management opportunities were almost exclusively reserved for full-time workers. In all age groups, more than 90% of managers were working full-time.
The discrepancy in working patterns occurs from age 35 onwards when men are predominantly working full-time and women are predominantly working part-time or casually.
Further, men over the age of 55 are twice as likely to be in management than women.
For the women who have made it to managerial ranks at the same age, two-thirds are in lower-tiered management ranks.
Wooldridge says too many employers are missing a huge talent pool by not encouraging and enabling women to work additional hours or in the managerial ranks.
"With effective policies, workplaces can both enable women to work full-time if they chose to and make higher-paid managerial roles more accessible for those who work part-time," she explained.
She pointed out the importance of employer policies that focus on equal access to - and uptake of - workplace support for women and men throughout their working lives.
These include gender-neutral parental leave policies, childcare subsidies and support, and flexible work policies which include targets for male and female uptake.
Wooldridge added that workplaces must enable progression opportunities for part-time workers.
"Our research with McKinsey and the Business Council of Australia shows that on average, companies with more part-time managers have more women at executive levels," she says.
"Leading employers are creating or redesigning roles to support part-time management and job-sharing structures, for example, to make it possible for parents who may want to work school hours.
"In times of a tight talent market, attracting and retain highly skilled and capable women is more important than ever."
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