Financial inequality gap: a gender issue

Ninety per cent of Australian women will have inadequate savings come retirement according to a new report.

ANZ Women’s Report: Barriers to Achieving Gender Equity, has found full-time working Australian women earn on average $295 per week less than men, or $15,000 a year.

If extended over a typical 45- year career, this pay gap equates to about $700,000.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said Australians values are that women and men are equal, yet this is not in line with the facts.

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women speaking at the 2014 International Women's Day.

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women speaking at the 2014 International Women’s Day.

“Structural and cultural barriers still exist that negatively impact on a woman’s life choices. These barriers are effectively sabotaging our national productivity and prosperity,” Ms Cash said.

“Clear differences exist between men and women’s wealth, financial status and retirement incomes. ANZ Women’s Report: Barriers to Achieving Gender Equity highlights these differences and provides a ‘line in the sand’ for measures on gender equality in the home, in the workplace and in leadership roles.”

The report states there are three key drivers of financial gender inequality:

  • fields of study, career choices and pay gaps
  • the gendered nature of caring responsibilities
  • discrimination and structural bias.

Chief Executive Officer of ANZ Global Wealth Joyce Phillips said women are helping to drive the knowledge economy in the 21st century, but from the time they start their first jobs, survey analysis reveals the starting salaries for female graduates are four per cent less than the starting salaries of men.

“This means we need to change the way our workplaces function,” Ms Phillips said.

“We need to look at the structures and expectations that exist around caring for children and families, and to address the conscious and unconscious biases that hold women back from promotion. We need to redesign financial systems so they provide greater support to women through their various life stages.”

Liz Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission said inequality systems constrain Australia’s potential.

“In my experience, change needs to start with identifying these systems and challenging gender stereotypes and social norms,” Ms Broderick said.

“As this report acknowledges, women’s lack of economic security is impacted by the gender pay gap but also time spent out of the paid workforce caring for others. I have often asked myself, ‘is poverty to be the reward for a lifetime spent caring?’ This is where many women in Australia are at.”

When considering Tasmania, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Tasmania’s gender pay gap was at 10.7 per cent and in November 2014, the gap was reported to have increased by 2.1 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

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