Gender pay gap grows in NSW government sector

Gender pay gap grows in NSW government sector

The gap is now costing women an average $4000 a year.

The public sector gender pay gap in NSW is now at its widest, with women earning almost $4000 less than men on average per year. 

That’s according to the NSW Public Service Commission’s 2021 Workforce Profile Report released this week, showing that over the past twelve months, the difference in median remuneration between men and women in the public sector was 4.1 percent or $3905.

Last year, the difference was 2.2 per cent or $2053. 

Women make up just over 65 per cent of employees in the public sector in roles including police, ambulance officers, transportation providers, nurses and teachers.  

School teachers make up the largest number of employees within the public service, accounting for more than 70,000 full-time workers, followed by nurses (51,441), clerical workers (47,406) and school support staff (25,802) — professions which are dominated by women.

The total number employed as teachers, nurses and police has increased over the last 12 months by 2.3 percent. 

A higher portion of men compared with women were appointed to roles with a salary of $165,750 or more, including senior executive roles, and fewer women attracted pay rises than men.

Male-dominated roles earned the highest salary, including transport (70 percent male) and senior executives roles (57 percent male). 

The number of women in senior leadership roles varied across the board, though it has risen since former premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Premier’s Priority which aimed to see females hold half of all senior leadership roles within the decade.

“In 2021, roughly equal numbers of men and women were appointed to senior leader roles,” the Profile reported. “Modelling has confirmed that six female appointments are required for every 10 roles to achieve gender equity in this cohort.” 

In the Forward to this week’s report, NSW Public Service Commissioner Kathrina Lo noted that female senior leader representation increased to 42.7 percent in 2021, though current projections show it will fall short of the 2025 target of 50 percent women.

“The gender gap in the number of applications for higher paid roles decreased in 2021, with a higher proportion of female applicants compared to previous years,” she noted. 

“The gender pay gap for senior executives was lower than that of the broader workforce — 2.5 percent in 2021 for Public Service.”

“Sustained effort will be needed to reach the target of gender parity by 2025,” she concluded. 

Since 1999, the Workforce Profile Report has presented yearly data on the state’s public sector workforce. The information, including age, gender and diversity group membership, hours worked, leave patterns, remuneration and mobility, is then used to inform future workforce management strategies and policy.

The latest figures will put a spotlight on NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to promote more women to his front bench in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

Last week, the 39-year old said he was committed to promoting more women in his cabinet reshuffle, but refused to commit to a specific quota.

“We’ve been led previously by the first elected female premier of our state, so it’s not all bad,” he said. “But there is more to do. I’ve committed to increasing female representation in the cabinet. I won’t put a figure on it, but we will see an increase.”

In terms of diversity, this year’s report revealed a slight increase in the number of employees identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – 3.7 percent. Almost one fifth of the sector are people whose language first spoken as a child was not English – 18.5 percent.

Employees who reported a disability was at 2.5 percent, and people from racial, ethnic and ethno-religious minority groups are estimated to make up roughly 13 percent of the sector, which is a 0.5 percent increase from last year.

Access the full Workforce Profile Report here.

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