03/03/2016 - 11:16

Male-dominated industry no barrier

03/03/2016 - 11:16

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Western Australia’s unenviable position as national leader in gender pay gap cannot be explained by the prominence of male-dominated industries, according to new national research.

Male-dominated industry no barrier
Bankwest managing director Rob De Luca says the bank only worked with other companies with strong gender equality practices.

Western Australia’s unenviable position as national leader in gender pay gap cannot be explained by the prominence of male-dominated industries, according to new national research.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, which has compiled two years worth of data for all workplaces other than government departments with 100-plus staff, found WA has the nation’s highest gender pay gap. Full-time working men in the state earn on average 24.9 per cent more than full-time working women.

This is compared with the average national gender pay gap of 17.3 per cent, and South Australia’s average gender pay gap of 10.3 per cent.

At today’s launch of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’s report on gender equity, created in collaboration with the WGEA, BCEC director Alan Duncan said the research had shown female managers were more likely to be remunerated closer to their male peers if they worked in male-dominated workplaces.

“It did go converse to what has been the traditional notion of the drivers of the pay gap,” Professor Duncan said.

“It was fascinating to see, for example, in construction and mining the additional pay gaps between base and total remuneration were actually at the relatively small end of the spectrum, and also in terms of the absolute pay gap ... in what have been often used to explain the high gender pay gap in Western Australia.”

Last year a report released by the Committee for Perth called Filling the Pool found the major barriers to achieving gender equity in Perth were a male-dominated culture derived from a historical reliance on mining, energy and construction, a lack of women progressing through these often lucrative career sectors, limited access to childcare and flexible work practices, and the largest pay gap in Australia.

The report also found Perth’s male-dominated business and social cultures were perpetuating gender roles and stereotypes.

Today’s report from BCEC and WGEA reported that women working full time in senior managerial positions earn on average $100,000 per year less than men in key management positions, with women earning on average $244,569 per year in total remuneration compared with $343,269 for men.

It found increased representation of women on boards was associated with significant reductions in gender pay gaps, with a 6.3 per cent reduction in the gender pay gap for full –time managers occurring when boards increased female representation.

WGEA director Libby Lyons said research continuing to show the benefits of diverse and inclusive workplaces women and men had to keep driving for change.

“If we just keep at it, and at it, and at it we will get there,” she said.

Professor Duncan said further research was needed to explain the gender pay gap and drive action to correct it.

Among the reasons for the gender pay gap discussed at the launch were: men being more likely to ask and receive pay rises; women entering on lower salaries and this having a compound effect over their careers; women often returning from parental leave into non-managerial positions; women taking on more unpaid care and household duties; differences in skills and education and training levels; and women in managerial positions more often working in roles less highly valued or less open to receiving bonuses based on performance than roles men manage.

“In WA when you take all of the potential explanations for the larger pay gap in WA there remains less of that larger gap that remains unexplained so in some sense that’s encouraging but in other senses there’s a greater need to understand just what it is that’s driving that bigger explained gap,” Professor Duncan said.

Bankwest managing director Rob De Luca, whose company was named by WGEA in 2015 as an employer of choice, said the bank considered its gender equality policies in all aspects of its operation, including when choosing which suppliers and companies it worked with.

“We do discriminate against other organisations that don’t take it seriously,” he said.

Ms Lyons said the WGEA intended to boost its presence and involvement in WA, noting its work to date had had a much bigger impact over east.

Of the 90 workplaces named as WGEA’s employers of choice last year in recognition of their outstanding gender equality practices only four are based in WA; Alcoa of Australia, design and engineering firm Arup, Bankwest and Curtin University.

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