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The very slow march toward gender equality

By Conrad Liveris - posted Friday, 14 November 2014

Earlier this year it was announced that the gender pay gap had widened to 1994 levels. A gender pay gap of 18.2 per cent is not good for anyone.

Since the Equal Pay Cases of 1969 and 1972 there has been glacial change. This is not without effort. A lot of people care and are active on this issue.

Indeed, not even the fearsome and formidable power women of the 1980s could change the status quo.


It is often asked by some: is this even an issue?

Gender inequality is one of the greatest weaknesses in our economy. Women are attaining university education at higher rates to men, almost across every field. The challenge is that this is not translating to the workforce generally, and especially in leadership.

This week Gail Kelly has announced her retirement from leading Westpac, and in doing so the ASX has become that little bit more male.

Kelly is expected to dedicate more of her time to issues of diversity because she realises that investments made in girls and women's education are not paying off.

There are a few things that make up economic gender inequality. The highly feminised industries are often paid less, combining this with a lack of senior women across the economy and the positioning of women in pay bands predominantly at the bottom compounds gender inequality.

This is a complex mix and a can be difficult to translate to superficially curious.


Some people might take issue with that and question it. I agree that scrutinising research and data is really important, however the same issues keep being found.

In 2012, it was found that if women's wages rose to that of men's our GDP would expand by $93 billion. That might be a merely economic dream, but if the Australian labour market used women's talents the same as Canada our economy would expand by $25 billion.

These are not small sums of money, it recognises that women are havens of productivity and economic transformation.

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About the Author

Conrad Liveris is a Community Advocate and Operations Analyst, working in business development and policy with a focus on gender equality and intergenerational issues.

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