The Australian Government is investing over $900,000 in a range of projects and services aimed at bridging the gender pay gap and supporting girls and women in the workforce and the community.

Research by the EOWA revealed last month that the issue of gender equality is still evident today in Australian workplaces. Here’s a reminder of the key statistic that came out as a result of the research:

* Australian women, on average, earn 17.4% less than men

It is well-known that organisations benefit from the participation of women on their boards and in senior mangement positions.

“The Australian Government is committed to continuing to advance equality between women and men and we are backing this up through a range of new projects and services,” said The Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins.

“These include resources to help women with the cost of living and programs to help young women with personal development and to boost women’s leadership in male-dominated industries.

“The Government is determined to advance gender equality and women’s economic security and will respond strongly to gender inequality anywhere.

“This legislation is a significant step towards the removal of barriers to women’s full and equal participation in the workplace and I look forward to the legislation passing through the Senate as soon as possible,” Ms Collins said.

Some of the latest funding measures through the Gender Equality for Women program are:

  • $225,000 for a second round of 70 Australian Institute of Company Directors board diversity scholarships, as announced by the Prime Minister last week.
  • $51,625 to determine how to best support emerging women leaders in the community sector.
  • $100,000 towards the Sports Leadership Grants and Scholarships for Women Program, to enable more women to access accredited training and education in sports management.
  • $50,000 for a joint project with the Australian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with the Male Champions of Change, aimed at boosting women’s leadership in male-dominated industries.
  • $89,106 to better understand how to promote women’s participation in the labour force and help inform the development of the new National Workforce Development Strategy. 
  • $52,500 to examine the reasons for the first year pay gap between male and female graduates from university and vocational education and training. 
  • $39,000 to enhance each portfolio’s capacity to meet the gender balance target of at least 40 per cent women on Australian Government boards by 2015.

Whilst these government initiatives will assist in some aspects of improving the gender pay gap, organisations need to do their part also, says Emma Walsh, Director of mums@work.

“We lose many women from the top positions in organisations because of leaving to go on maternity leave and have children. Employers need to be ready to have that flexible work conversation to retain their top female talent,” says Walsh.

The 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Community (HREOC) report on work life balance suggests that ‘flexibility in the workplace’ is the fundamental component in enabling workers to meet the ever increasing demands of work and family life.

It is great to see the Australian government putting support behind the evident gender pay gap.

Article by Elysha Stephens, Marketing & Communications Consultant