Here’s what to know about the gender pay gap in Australia

Activism Resources


The gender pay gap describes wage inequality between women and men, where women consistently earn less than men. It is a manifestation of gender inequality, which is exacerbated by other forms of discrimination like racism, ableism, and classism.


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The gender pay gap in Australia is nearing almost $1 billion per week, or $51.8 billion per year, according to the recently released report She’s Price(d)less [1]. Women start their career with a pay gap of 6%, worsening as their career progresses to a high of 18% [1].

Gender discrimination is the leading driver of the gender pay gap, contributing 36% of the $2.56 hourly pay gap [1]. Other contributors, like women disproportionately taking on caregiving responsibilities, and women’s participation in the workforce, are all related to gender inequality.

Key statistics

  • Women start in the work force earning less than men and continue to earn less than men at every life stage. [1]

  • Women are less likely to ask for a pay rise than men, and less likely to receive a pay rise when they ask for it than men who ask for a pay rise. [2]

  • Women experience relentless gender discrimination in the workplace, which is most prevalent at top management level. [1]

  • Women are more likely to have unstable, part-time, or casual work than men. [3]

  • Industries and careers that are historically seen as “women’s work” are dominated by women and continue to be underpaid and undervalued, with women underrepresented in promotions and key management positions. [1]

  • Gendered norms mean that women are often primary caregivers [4]. This means that when women have children, or have a loved one in need of care, they often bear the brunt of the caregiving responsibilities. This can result in women having to reduce their working hours or even drop out of the workforce to be able to provide care.

  • The cost of being a mother is significantly higher than being a father in Australia. Australian mothers earn less than half of what they were earning before giving birth, in the first five years of being a parent. [5]

  • There is a huge superannuation gender gap, mainly due to women taking time out of the workforce to raise children, whilst men continue to earn consistently. In the years approaching retirement age, the gender superannuation gap can be anywhere between 22% – 35%. [6]

How does it affect people differently?

Most of the research on the gender pay gap focuses on women as a homogenous group. But not all women experience discrimination and wage inequality the same. For example, an Indigenous single mother with high-school education will not have the same experience as a married disabled White woman with a master’s degree and no children.

We need research that has an intersectional lens to better understand the issue. This means that research should be looking at how different women might earn less than others because of their multiple intersecting identities. We also need research on how gender-diverse people experience wage inequality, as they are largely left out of the research.

What can we do about it?

We need to tackle this issue in a holistic way and greater action is needed by industries, communities, and governments. Here are some opportunities for workplaces to close the gender pay gap, as outlined in She’s Price(d)less:

  • Address all forms of discrimination including in hiring, promotion, and access to training.
  • Eliminate harassment, sexism, bullying, and violence.
  • Undertake gender pay gap audits and action findings.
  • Model pay transparency and report on gender pay gaps.
  • Improve work-life balance and provide flexible working arrangements.
  • Address unconscious bias and promote a positive workplace culture.
  • Rethink and redesign part-time roles for managers.
  • Increase the representation of women and gender-diverse people in leadership positions.


[1] KPMG, Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), She’s Price(d)less (2022). Available at:

[2] YouGov Survey, 2022. Available at:


[4] Smith, J. Gender and the Coronavirus Outbreak, Think Global Health, February 4 (2020) Available at:

[5] Natasha Bradshaw and Elif Bahar. More here:

[6] KPMG, The Gender Superannuation Gap: Addressing the options, 2021. Available at: