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Australian men's earnings outstrip women's by as much as 20%

Australian men are, on average, earning as much as 20% more than women, according to analysis conducted on behalf of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that men’s ordinary time earnings are on average 16.1% higher than women’s.

But ACTU researcher, Conrad Liveris, says that the figure could be closer to 20% when factors such as overtime and penalty rate payments are taken into account.

Even the ordinary time earnings figure equates to a $260 a week difference on average.

And despite the principle of equal pay for equal work, some firms are paying women less than men for doing the same job, Liveris says. He points in particular to some accounting firms which he says are paying men and women differently for the same roles with pay gaps ranging from 1 to 5 per cent.

"Even at their highest level, at the partnership level, they were finding about a 5 per cent gender pay gap in a like-for-like basis," Mr Liveris said.

It would be interesting to consider how far the spread of performance-based pay systems is contributing to this result. While the main factors behind the “gender wage gap” are the concentration of women in lower wage sectors of the economy and the related undervaluation of “women’s work”, performance pay does open the door to forms of discrimination, even at a sub-conscious level.

More obviously, of course, women continue to be under-represented at this level of the workforce.

“We do still see only about a 20% rate of women in management,” Mr Liveris said.

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