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Women trail men on economic security but not property

ABS Gender Indicators data shows women trail men on wealth, wages and jobs but not ownership of the property that they live in.

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Australian women continue to trail men on wealth, jobs and wages, but not only property ownership.

Data released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics annual Gender Indicators report highlights three of the main pain points for women when it comes to economic security, all of which are heavily impacted by women taking career breaks to care for children, and the fact that there are about 2 million less women working full-time than men.

The report, which comes ahead of next week’s economic progress score for women, the Financy Women’s Index combines already published data from this year’s statistics.


Among the most interesting economic security features of the ABS report was the level of female property ownership.

The data shows that women aged between 15 – 44 years are much more likely than men in this age group to own the properties that they live in – either with or without a mortgage.

This trend reverses briefly after that point in the 45 – 54 age group in favour of men with a mortgage.

It then changes again with women aged 55 – 74 without a mortgage more likely to own the home they live in. This trend reverses to men dominating ownership in the age group over 75.

The data shows that a higher proportion of women who owned their homes were widows (14 per cent). Around 58 per cent of women living in houses that were owned outright were married, while 11 per cent were divorced or separated,

Unfortunately the data does not tell us the extent to which people also own investment property outside of the home that they live in. 

Because of this it is difficult to say that this represents something of a gender gap among younger women in the Australian property market.

Jobs and earnings

The ABS report also reconfirms that there are fewer women in the labour force than men, and those who are working are more likely to be in part-time and casual employment, and more likely to be under-employed than men.

When it comes to average earnings, women take home less from their jobs overall, averaging 89 cents for every $1 that a man earns.


This combined with the fact that women are still doing most of the primary caring of children has a profound impact on how much money women have come retirement.

In 2016–17, women took 95 per cent of the primary parental leave used by non-public sector employees. Conversely, 95 per cent of secondary parental leave was taken by men.


Women approaching retirement, aged 55-64 years, have about $70,000 less superannuation than men of the same age.

In 2015–16 the median superannuation balance in this age group was $96,000 for women and $166,000 for men.

Just under a quarter (24 per cent) of women aged 15–64 years old had no superannuation coverage at all in 2015–16, compared to one in five men (20 per cent) of the same age.


More women than men attain a bachelor degree, with most women likely to qualify in management and commerce or society and culture. Men are most likely to qualify in management and commerce or engineering and related technologies.

Female graduates earn less than male graduates overall, with median starting salaries of $59,000 and $60,100 respectively, and they earn less in 15 out of 19 key industries.

Bucking the trend, female engineering and related technologies graduates have a higher starting salary than their male counterparts for the first time in 2017: $65,000 compared with $63,500.

We suspect this might have a lot to so with the focus on getting more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses with the Federal Government announcing further funding to support this in the May Budget.

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