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Gender pay gap exposed by BCEC report

News story

A report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), in partnership with Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), has increased awareness of, and shed invaluable light on, gender pay gaps in the Australian labour market.

Gender Equity Insights 2016: Inside Australia’s Gender Pay Gap analyses WGEA’s 2014–15 dataset on gender equality, which covers four million Australian workers and more than 12,000 employers. BCEC has exclusive access to this world-leading data source. As stated in the report, gender pay gaps represent “poorer outcomes for women in terms of economic and personal freedoms; lost human capital potential and investment; and an impairment of economic growth for a nation looking to remain competitive on a global scale.”

The analysis found that on average, men received higher remuneration than women in almost every scenario, but particularly among senior management roles. Women working full-time in top-tier managerial positions were found to earn on average $100,000 per annum less than their male colleagues.

Across all employees, women on a full-time equivalent base salary were found to earn on average 23.1 per cent less than their male colleagues; however, when accounting for ‘discretionary’ payments like superannuation, overtime and bonuses, this increased to 27.5 per cent.

“Most analyses tend to focus on the difference in average pay between men and women, not the difference in discretionary or supplementary pay. This suggests unconscious gender bias in what we have labelled the ‘male bonus premium’,” says BCEC Director Professor Alan Duncan.

WGEA has used the insights from the report extensively in its public speaking and education programs.

“The 2016 report has enabled organisations to better understand gender pay gaps and the impact of bonuses across full-time, part-time and casual employment; see a linkage between higher female representation on boards and a reduction in the pay gap; and informed educational resources, including our workshops on how to conduct a gender pay gap analysis,” says WGEA Director Libby Lyons.

The report was launched at the Hyatt Regency Perth on 3 March 2016. The launch was accompanied by a comprehensive media strategy, which continued momentum through to and beyond International Women’s Day on 8 March 2016, reaching an estimated 2.1 million people, with an estimated advertising space rate value of more than $550,000. The findings of the report generated coverage across major WA and national media outlets, including the ABC,  The Age, Australian Financial Review, Herald Sun,, PerthNow, The Sydney Morning Herald and WAtoday. Cassells was interviewed on ABC News 24 and by Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney. Radio interviews with Cassells and Duncan were also syndicated across the News Corp network.

On the day of the launch, BCEC’s Twitter account earned 8,200 impressions resulting in 24 link clicks, 54 retweets and 40 likes. The average engagement rate for the related tweets was 2.8 per cent, an order of magnitude higher than the higher education average of 0.052 per cent. WGEA further promoted the report across social media, earning 22,000 impressions on Twitter resulting in 41 link clicks, 121 retweets and 61 likes, and more than 3,000 views on Facebook. The Curtin Media Twitter account also promoted the event.

Duncan, Cassells and BCEC Professor Rachel Ong wrote an article promoting the report’s findings on The Conversation, drawing 3,450 readers, 135 tweets, 164 Facebook likes and 25 LinkedIn shares, and was republished through The Conversation’s creative commons licence. A second article written by Cassells was published on 8 September 2016 and achieved 14,500 reads, 144 shares on Twitter and 463 Facebook likes.

The team’s extensive media output was recognised by Curtin at the 2016 Curtin Media Awards. The BCEC team won the award for Curtin Business School’s (CBS’s) Most Outstanding Curtin Research News Story, in acknowledgment of achieving the faculty’s highest positive media coverage for a research-related story during the year. Cassells was also named Most Prolific New Media Commentator for CBS, largely owing to the media impact of the report.

The research underpinning the report has contributed to ongoing national-level policy discussions. Duncan, Cassells and Ong incorporated their pre-launch findings in a submission to the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into economic security for women in retirement in November 2015 and during their address to the committee on 12 February 2016 in Sydney. References to the 2016 report can be found in the final report delivered by the committee in April 2016.

The Hon. Simone McGurk MLA, WA Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services – a Shadow Cabinet member in 2016 – has also noted the report’s contribution to state-level policy discussions: “I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre in putting gender issues on the agenda of economic policy. Your willingness to make a difference in what is often challenging work is to be congratulated.”

This story is from A Decade of Impact

A Decade of Impact is a series that showcases some of Curtin’s most impactful research projects in recent years. The chosen research projects are examples of how Curtin translates its research into economic, environmental and social impact.


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