Fact sheet

Fact Check: Have women become better educated whilst the gender pay gap hasn't budged?

Australian Labor Party Education Gender gap
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen put the case for gender equality in a speech to the Women's Economics Network. He argued that efforts to tackle gender inequality had made "far too little progress", while the gender pay gap had been "in neutral for 20 years". And it wasn't, he said, because women were less educated or had fewer skills than men. "While Australian women's educational attainment has steadily increased over the past two decades, the gender pay gap hasn't budged," he said. RMIT ABC Fact Check found Mr Bowen is correct. Over the 20 years to 2016, the gender pay gap in Australia has hovered between 15 per cent and 19 per cent. It currently sits on its 20-year average of 16 per cent. During the same period, women's educational attainment has steadily risen. The proportion of Australian women with a bachelor's degree or above rose from just under 13 per cent in 1996 to 28 per cent in 2016. In fact, since 1998, more women than men have earned a bachelor's degree or higher qualification. This appears to have had little impact on the gender pay gap.
Verdict: Correct
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