White Ribbon’s position on the gender pay gap data

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between average weekly full-time equivalent earnings of men and women. It is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

The national gender pay gap is currently 16% (as at February 2017). Over the past twenty years, the national gender pay gap has been between 15% and 19%.

White Ribbon’s position on the gender pay gap data[i]

Gender pay gap data gives us an important insight into the overall position of women in the workforce. Over the past twenty years, the national gender pay gap in Australia has remained between 15% and 19%. This reflects the ongoing influence of work, social and family factors on women’s experience of employment.

Gender stereotypes about the work that men and women ‘should’ do, along with stereotypes about the way men and women should participate in paid employment, have a considerable influence on the gender pay gap. Generally, women and men work in different jobs and in different industries. Historically, female-dominated jobs and industries have attracted lower wages than male-dominated jobs and industries.

The gender pay gap data also highlights the impact of unpaid care responsibilities on the employment experience of women, for example:

  • More frequent breaks from paid employment, for example to care for children.
  • Women are more likely than men to work part-time or flexibly.
  • Lack of women in senior roles, including a lack of part-time or flexible senior roles.

Other contributing factors include differences in the educational attainment and work experience of men and women.

Indirect and direct discrimination against women continues to contribute to the gender pay gap.

Why we need to close the gender pay gap

To realise gender equality, we must close the gender pay gap. This involves breaking down gender stereotypes about the roles of men and women in the workforce and the home and recognising and addressing unconscious bias in the workplace that favours men and limits women.

Narrow gender stereotypes harm both men and women. Examining social definitions of manhood will help remove the pressure on men to, for example, be physically strong, not show emotion and be financially successful. These expectations of men create the conditions for violence, abuse and control of women to occur. This is why closing the gender pay gap is so important to achieving gender equality. It benefits everyone to address gender stereotypes and gender inequality[ii].

A whole-of-community approach is key to achieving gender equality, and workplaces play an important role in providing the conditions that support gender equality at work.


White Ribbon Australia thanks the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for assisting with the formulation of this statement. You can learn more about the gender pay gap on their website:

[i] Workplace Gender Equality Agency (February 2017) Gender Pay Gap Statistics. Available from:

[ii] Kaufman, M. (1999) The Seven P’s of Men’s Violence

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