Gender Equality: A Reality Check in Australia

Gender Equality: A Reality Check in Australia

Australia is one of the most progressed nations and the expectations are that both men and women have equal rights. Unfortunately, the subject of gender equality is still facing harsh reality and the existence of inequality is still being talked about. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) President Gerard Noonan explained that out of the 200 companies in Australia, 40 have achieved the aim of 30% of the board being female. The difference is that there are at least 30 companies that have no females on the boards and 58 have only one. [1] Women in Australia facing this kind of reality have tried to make significant strides towards equality with men whether it is in the workplace, government, or schools.

The Facts

 Australia ranks 36th in the Global Gender Report. [2] It is unexpectedly surprising to see that Australia is not within top 10 and falls behind New Zealand and the Philippines in the Asia and the Pacific. Below is the current ranking:


The management and executive numbers in the 2012 Australian Census of Leadership explicitly present the gap between male and female leadership. In all sectors, there is a huge difference for almost 60%-70% from the male dominated leadership roles.


The national gender pay gap is 18.2% and has remained between 15% to 18% for the past two decades. [3] It is a mix of public and private sectors that has been identified with the gap for the male and female.

Interesting fact: The average Australian woman has to work an extra 66 days a year to earn the same pay as the average man.


The percentage of women in the parliamentary has declined over the years and internationally, Australia’s ranking for women in national government continues is lower compared with other countries.


The four important reports provide the facts that it is clearly an issue of gender inequality in Australia. The most critical fact that must be considered is that 50.2% of the population in Australia are women. [4] The imbalance in Australia is rampant and the path towards achieving equality depends not only with the government, but also the support of the non-state actors including the United Nations.

Barriers to Gender Equality

The Human Rights Australia have stated some important barriers to gender equality. [5]

  • Australian women are over-represented as part-time workers in low-paid industries and in insecure work and continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in the private and public sectors.
  • A quarter of women were sexually harassed in the workplace between 2007 and 2012.The harasser was most likely to be a co-worker (52%) and the most common forms of sexual harassment included sexually suggestive comments/jokes (55%), intrusive questions about private life or appearance (50%) and inappropriate staring or leering (31%).
  • In 2014, one in two (49%) mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work, and one in five (18%) mothers indicated that they were made redundant, restructured, dismissed, or that their contract was not renewed because of their pregnancy, when they requested or took parental leave, or when they returned to work.
  • Mothers spend twice as many hours (8 hours and 33 minutes) each week looking after children under 15, compared to fathers (3 hours and 55 minutes).
  • One in three Australian women aged 15 years and over has experienced physical violence and nearly one in five has experienced sexual assault. It is estimated that violence against women and children will cost the Australian economy $15.6 billion per year by 2021-2022 unless decisive action is taken to prevent it.

Most of the issues and problems faced by women lead to discrimination, violence and undervaluation in their roles in the society. These examples are indeed barriers to gender equality and the exposure through the reports presented must be the wake-up call and put more stringent measures to reduce the events from happening at a high rate.

The Positive “Solutions” and “Reinforcements”

The resolution of Sex Discrimination Act was passed where it makes against the law to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender, gender, sexuality, marital status, family responsibilities or because they are pregnant. [6] This law has improved and closed the gap between male and female, but has not completely eradicated in the communities. Positive actions have also influenced both private and public sectors to focus its programs to be more gender (conscious)-sensitive. Former UN Women director Julie McKay has called out rail giant Aurizon with its “shared care” program. The program allows the female employee upon her return to work after a year from the time her child is born, she receives 150% of her salary if the partner takes full-time care of the child. [7] This approach redefines the balance of men and women sharing work and care.

Other positive results based on the programs are the following:

  • The percentage of women on the Boards of ASX 200 listed companies has grown from 8.3% in 2010 to 18.6% in August 2014.
  • Australian men and women overwhelmingly believe (90%) that men should be as involved in parenting as women.
  • In 2010 the Commonwealth Government set a target of 40% women and 40% men on Commonwealth Government board positions by 2015, and this target was achieved for the first time in 2013. [8]


The direction of Australia is a path towards gender equality. Noonan, the ACSI President, still sees this as an opportunity and a work in progress. He concludes that gender equality is a reality check and further criticizes that “until the boards start taking this whole issue of gender equality seriously, we are not going to see any great leaps or any great improvements in the figures as they are today.”[9] Below is the video supplementing the gender equality in Australia.


[1] Ryan, Peter. 2015. “Gender inequality still rampant in Australian workplaces, pay gap remains high: report.” ABC News. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[2] World Economic Forum. 2015. “The Global Gender Report.” World Economic Forum. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[3] Australian Government. 2012. “Australian Census of Women in Leadership.” Australian Government. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2009.”3201.0-Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories.” Accessed October 26, 2016.

[5] Human Rights Commission Australia. 2015. “Face the Facts: Gender Equality.” Human Rights Commission Australia. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ryan, Peter. 2015. “Gender inequality still rampant in Australian workplaces, pay gap remains high: report.” ABC News. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[8] McCann, Dr. Joy., and Janet Wilson. 2014. “Representation of women in Australian parliaments 2014.” Parliament of Australia. Accessed October 26, 2016.

[9] Ibid., Ryan 2015.



3 thoughts on “Gender Equality: A Reality Check in Australia

  1. ecuami

    This blog contains important information that helps to understand the real situation of gender gap in Australia, clearly explains the current situation and statistics within the global area. Important also say that according some articles also, Australia is a nation where women are paid less for the work they do, do more unpaid work, are denied seats at the heads of the largest corporations, are more stressed and are greater victims of harassment. Like every other country around the world, some areas of gender gap are not closing yet. Work and changes within the society are needed to achieve one of the sustainable development goals 2030. At least, try to achieve part of it. Another important issue in Australia, about women, rather than get too sad, there are some positive news, according to statistics, where women still live longer than men. When women get to 65, they can expect on average to live another 22 years; men get just 19 years. Interesting data, that help to understand better the gender gap in Australia.


  2. Very informational blog with all the facts and figures regarding gender gap in Australia. Like most of the countries, it seems that Australia is also declining in women participation in politics. Violence and abuse against women are major barriers for the gender gap. It looks like most of the countries are facing the same problem.


  3. blog is really very informative and useful with the barriers of gender equality and the solution to it. Data presented in figures shows that women participation in declining and women rank is low than other country. I am amazed that there exist a huge gender gap in Australia. It is sad to know that women are paid less than men and they need to work for 66 days more than men a year to earn the same pay.


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