Looking back at life over the past year against the backdrop of the sudden shift to remote working, interrupted childcare, and job losses – women have suffered more than men.
New research reveals that in all regions of the APAC, stress management ranks as a greater challenge for women than it does for men.
The findings point to other potential causes of stress among women: less assurance around job prospects than men, and the feeling of being comparatively undervalued at work.
Currently, Australia’s national gender pay gap is 13.4 per cent.
This means that women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,562.00 compared to men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of $1,804.20.
The global survey of 32,471 workers (and 7,627 in the APAC region) formed a report People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View by ADP released last month.
The report found women were dramatically worse off when it came to financial incentives for taking on additional responsibilities and/or a new role through COVID-19.
Women are also less likely than men to receive a pay rise or bonus for taking on additional work or changing roles.
It highlights the issues women and mothers face in the workplace.
Just a third of women (32 per cent) feel confident they could find another job with the same flexibility, compared to 45 per cent of men.
But this declines to 28 per cent for mothers, while remaining at 45 per cent for fathers. Women are also less likely to feel confident that they could find another job with the same pay or job satisfaction.
Federal Budget outcomes
And while the recent Federal Budget promised to be a budget for women, many suggest that the spending was all about making amends, falling short in many areas.
The Budget announced spending to the tune of $38.3 million to expand the Women’s Leadership and Development Program.
This will help improve outcomes for women in areas such as job creation, economic security, safety and international engagement.
A further $42.4 million will be spent helping women to pursue STEM qualifications as part of the National Careers Institute Partnership Grants program.
The $450 super threshold was scrapped in a bid to bolster super balances and build equity in the system, given the majority of workers who earn less are women.
Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean labelled the budget ‘a post Mother’s Day sting’ given that the government refused to pay super on Commonwealth-paid parental leave – more than 90 per cent of which would be paid to women.
Women retire with a third less super than men, a big driver in the time women take out of the paid workforce for unpaid caring.
The government is sending the message to mums that it is OK for their savings to suffer when they take time out of the workforce to raise children, Dean says.
“The best way to improve women’s economic recovery is to stop talking about it as a problem and get rid of outdated policies by paying super on every dollar they earn, and mandating that it be paid on payday.
Women are recovering from a ‘triple-whammy’ – they were more likely to lose their jobs, do unpaid work and less likely to get government support, according to research released in March by Grattan Institute.
“Many Australians – particularly women – suffered more than they needed to in the COVID recession because elements of the government response were inadequate or ill-directed,” Grattan CEO and lead author of the report, Danielle Wood says.
“Policy makers seemed oblivious to the fact that this recession was different to previous crises – women now make up almost half of the workforce, and they are overwhelmingly employed in industries that were hardest hit by the government-imposed lockdowns, such as hospitality, tourism and higher education,” Wood says.
One tech leader believes companies should be rewarded for hiring a diverse workforce and creating supportive environments for their team.
The co-founder of Aussie property management agency Different, Mina Radhakrishnan, agrees that while the budget is an improvement on last year, there’s still more to be done when it comes to creating an equitable workforce for women.
“I’ve worked in the tech industry in Australia and San Francisco, and in both cities, I have seen many high-performing women choose to leave the industry because it can be a toxic environment, riddled with pay gaps and a lack of opportunity to advance, often due to a lack of diverse leadership.
But framing the problem purely as a gender issue is problematic, she says.
“The people who suffer most are lower paid workers and minorities, not just women, and more needs to be done to address these issues.”