Policy report

While Australia has proudly achieved equity in education, women do not benefit from the opportunities unlocked by education in the same way that men do. This inequity is evidenced early in a career through graduate salaries – male graduates earn approximately $1000 more (up to $5000 more in some industries) than female graduates across every field of study. Over time, differences in wages, career progression and opportunity widen,. With women earning less than men over a lifetime, women also retire with less than men ($96,000 compared to $166,000).

In general, Australia’s public policies are not aligned to achieve broader gender equality goals and outcomes. On the one hand, policies like paid parental leave drive progress by reducing economic disadvantage experienced while caring for children. On the other hand, it can be argued that, means testing the child care benefit limits the economic viability of returning to work.

This policy brief sets out four key policies that can be implemented by government to accelerate change. With a combination of policies across different policy areas, Australia can accelerate closing the gender pay gap by approximately double over the next seven years compared to current progress.

  • Increased pay transparency
  • Create good quality and economically secure jobs in female dominated industries
  • Address the value of what is typically thought to be 'women's work'
  • Set ambitious targets and timeframes to accelerate change


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