Australia slips on gender equality, with global pay parity another 170 years away Featured

Congratulations Australia, we’re now in 46th place on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, one place behind the United States, well behind every country in Europe, and significantly lagging on other parts of the world including Rwanda, New Zealand and Mozambique.

We’re down from 36th on the list in 2015, and have managed a steady ten-year decline since taking out the 15th spot in 2006. The pace of change globally has slowed significantly in the past three years, with the WEF reporting that it will take 170 years for for the world to close the economic gender gap completely, significantly longer than the 118 years it predicted last year. It offers a handy calculator so you can see just how old you’ll be by that point. I’ll be more than 200 – hopefully by then we will have also closed our superannuation gap.

We manage the pathetic result despite continuing to rank equal first for educational attainment, with our health and safety ranking (72) and political empowerment ranking (61), largely bringing us down. We rank 42nd for economic participation and opportunity.

Australia ranks 36th for “legislators, senior officials and managers,” with the report finding such positions are 36% female, and a very poor 75th for women in ministerial positions, which it finds accounts for 17% of such positions. More positively, it reports that 54% of our “professional and technical workers” are female – but this doesn’t help our gender pay gap, where we’re ranked 60th for wage equality for similar work.

The report finds that globally the overall index on economic participation and opportunity slipping to its worst result since 2008. The drop can be attributed back to a fall in female workforce participation and an imbalance in salaries, with women earning around half of their male counterparts despite working longer hours. Just four countries have an equal number of women and men working as managers, senior officials and legislators. Women work an average 50 minutes a day more than men in both paid and unpaid work, averaging around 39 more days of work a year.

Australia’s result is beyond disappointing. It’s pathetic and shows we have significant work to do – particularly at a policy level – to address the significant imbalance that’s not only costing women in opportunities and earnings, but affecting our overall GDP and competitiveness on the world stage. It shows we’re failing to access the full talent and potential of one half of the population.  

The Global Top 10, according to the Global Gender Gap Index

  1. Iceland
  2. Finland
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Rwanda
  6. Ireland
  7. Philippines
  8. New Zealand
  9. Nicaragua

* 46th : Australia


Angela Priestley

Angela Priestley is the Publisher and founding editor of Women's Agenda. She's an author, journalist and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality and diversity. Her first book is Women Who Seize the Moment.

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