Best and worst sectors for the gender pay gap

The Women's Index looks at what sectors are doing well and which aren't when it comes to closing Australia's gender pay gap.

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Australia’s gender pay gap fell to a 20-year low in 2018 as the wage disparity narrowed in 9 sectors of the economy, but in the other 8 – the result wasn’t as glowing.

The gender pay gap as measured by the ABS Average Weekly Earnings data fell to 14.6% in May (as reported in August), compared to 15.2% in November 2017 (as reported in February this year).

Mining remains the highest paying sector for women with an average full-time weekly wage of $2201 as of May, but that is 0.4% less than in November 2017.

The gender pay gap in Mining widened over 2018 by 0.9 percentage points and stood at 16.9% in May.

There are now 34,000 women working in Mining full time, compared to 28,400 in November 2017. The sector recorded the third fastest employment growth for women over 2018.

Information Media and Telecommunications is now the second highest paying sector for women, with the average weekly full-time wage up 2.1% on November 2017.

In this sector, the average full-time female employee earned $1687.4 a week in May, compared to $2069.5 for the average male employee.

The gender pay gap in this sector also improved to 18.5% in May, which is down 0.6 percentage points from November 2017.

The Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services became the third highest paying sector of women with an unchanged average weekly full-time wage of $1671 in May 2018.

The industry employs the least number of women at 26,400 but it has made inroads in recruitment with the number of female employees up 8% on 2017.

The sector’s gender pay gap widened to 10.7% in May, up from 10.5% in November.

Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services are among the sectors with the lowest gender pay gaps. Both industries have managed to close their overall wage disparity by 1.8 percentage points to 6.3%, and a 2.5 percentage point drop to 9.1% respectively over 2018.

The female-dominated Education and Training sector is the fourth highest paying employer of women and also has one of the lowest gender pay gaps at 11.5%, down 0.2 percentage points from 2017.

The country’s biggest employer of women, Health Care and Social Assistance, reported a 2.2 percentage point widening of the gender pay gap in 2018. The wage disparity stood at 25% in May, which was up from 22.8% in November 2017.

Women working full-time in this sector earned an average weekly wage of $1391.9 in May, compared to $1405.5 in November 2017.

The sector with the largest gender pay gap is Finance and Insurance Services at 26.6% in May, up from 26.1% in November 2017.

The sector hired 7% more women over the same period. The average full-time wage for women stood at $1585.2 in May, which is $576 less than that of the average man at $2161.1.

The national gender pay gap is influenced by many interrelated work, family and societal factors, among which include gender stereotypes about work and the way women and men should engage in the workforce, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

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