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The latest research on the gender pay gap has seen it drop to the lowest level on record, which is something to be celebrated.

However, Australia’s national gender pay gap remains 13.3 per cent.

To put this into perspective, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as of November 2022, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,653.60. Australian men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings are $1,907.10. 

That’s $253.50 less than men each week, which over the course of a year adds up to be $13,182. Now, if you multiply that by 10 years, it’s $131,182, and over 20 years, it’s more than quarter of a million dollars!

So, for young women starting their careers today, who potentially have 40 years of employment ahead of them, the gender pay gap could make the difference of a staggering half a million dollars less money or potential assets than men by the time they retire.

It’s also important to recognise that the gender pay gap calculation only reflects base salary for full-time workers, meaning it’s only a limited reflection of the true situation, according to the WGEA.

I’m sure every one of us would like another $250 per week to help with living expenses, let alone $500,000 – which could have been invested in property – more when we retire.

With cost of living pressures impacting all of us at the moment, the fact that women continue to earn less than men is also starting to negatively impact their mental health.

Indeed, National Australia Bank’s latest Australian Wellbeing Survey found around one in three Australians are experiencing “high” levels of anxiety. The most common cause of that stress – for more than one in two respondents – is the cost-of-living, with women reporting much higher levels of financial stress than men.

Meeting the costs of needs that are essential to daily life and financial security, like medical bills and healthcare, major household items and raising $2,000 for an emergency, were named as the most common causes of that stress, according to the report.

Gender property ownership gap

As I have written about previously, there is also a significant gender gap when it comes to property ownership and investment.

CoreLogic produces an annual Women & Property report which this year showed that women in Australia continue to trail men in the home ownership stakes amid higher interest rate rises and softer home values.

CoreLogic’s 2023 Women & Property report found men were associated with ownership of 3.1 per cent more of the housing stock analysed than women. Female-only ownership of dwellings was 26.8 per cent, while male-inferred ownership was 29.9%. Property owned jointly between males and females was 43.4 per cent.

The report said that investment property in particular remained at the centre of gender disparity, with Aussie men owning seven percentage points more of the investment properties analysed than women.

Male-only names were associated with 36.3 per cent of investment properties, which is higher than both the share of investment properties owned by women (29.5 per cent), and the share owned by men and women jointly (34.2 per cent) in the research.

WGEA Key facts

  • The national gender pay gap, on base salary, is 13.3%.
  • For every $1 men make on average, Australian women make 87 cents.
  • On average, women working full-time earned a base salary of $1,653.60 per week, while men working full-time earned $1,907.10.
  • This means women earn $253.50 less than men every single week as a result of gender.

While much of this probably makes for gloomy reading amongst my female audience, it’s vital to not throw your hands up in defeat.

Rather, you have the power to improve your financial health and well-being by taking charge of your financial future, decisions, and independence.

And there is no better time to do so than right now. 

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