Today’s Gender Equality Scorecard ignores low paid women in feminised sectors. The report is not a comprehensive snapshot of working women in Australia and ignores the systemic undervaluing of workers in feminised care industries, instead focusing on the top end of town.

The 108,000 women working in long day care and the 300,000 women working in aged care have not seen their gender pay gap close, in fact in these parts of the economy the report shows it has increased. 

Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice, says, “There really is a huge hole in this report, the truth is that hundreds of thousands of working women in Australia are not represented. The report does not look at the reality for low paid working women in highly-feminised sectors like early learning, aged care and disability support.

“The report presents information about boards, executives and promotions – really about the people at the top end of town. What is missing is analysis about the female workers United Voice represents. Workers who work in highly feminised industries and whose very work itself is undervalued.

“Sectors that are dominated by women are paid far less than those dominated by men, for example aged care, and early childhood education and care. It is not a coincidence that these highly feminised sectors are some of the lowest paid in the country.

“After five years of gathering this data, we now need a reset with wider reporting and harder targets. What we need is gender pay gap reporting that focuses on all working women, and doesn’t ignore those in low-paid jobs in the care sector. Targets to close the gender pay gap must look at the quantity of women affected, like the 108,000 women who work in long day care, not finance executives at the big four banks. Work in the care sector is economically and socially undervalued as a consequence of its historical association with unpaid ‘women’s work’.

“Reports won’t fix this. We need government action, not just reporting on pay equity. 96% of those working in early childhood education are women. The only way to end the gender pay gap for women working in early childhood education is for the government to act and fund equal pay.

“As well, the report is drawn on data from less than half of the Australian workforce (only 40% of employees) and doesn’t include small and medium sized businesses from all over Australia (over 100 employees). It is not representing the situation in highly-fragmented workplaces (multiple small employers), like the care sector. Of course we want more women on boards and more female executives but we also want the thousands of qualified women working in early education to get paid more than $22 per hour.

“Increasing the pay packets of every aged carer or early educator’s pay packet in Australia will go a long way to tackling the historical and pervasive economic inequality between men and women. This needs to change if governments are serious about tackling gender inequality and closing the gender pay gap.

“Reporting on Australia’s gender pay gap needs to be focusing on all working women.”

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