Increased salaries are essential for women’s financial security

It is more important than ever for women to take an active interest in the remuneration they should receive and ensure their financial security, by being part of Federation’s More Than Thanks campaign.

One of the key findings of the Valuing the Teaching Profession inquiry was that the volume and complexity of teachers’ work has changed dramatically in the past two decades, however, teachers’ salaries have not increased compared to those of other professionals.

Research conducted by the University of Sydney Business School found that primary and secondary teachers have among the lowest incomes of all the major professions examined. This disparity is reducing the attractiveness of the profession and leading to worsening teacher shortages in NSW public schools.

According to Professor John Buchanan: “The earnings for female teachers compared to the average paid to all female professionals has fallen by 8 per cent in the last 30 years. For males the fall has been 15 per cent.”

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency reported in May 2021, that the gender pay gap was 17.5 per cent in the private sector and 10.8 per cent in the public sector. In the field of Education and Training it sits at around 11.4 per cent.

The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors including:

discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions

women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages

women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work

lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles

women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency report also found that the average gender pay gap increases to its highest point at 17.7 per cent for those aged 55 years and over. Women in this age group are more likely than men to have spent time out of the workforce to care for children and other family members. As a result of the extra time women spend in unpaid care work, they have fewer promotions opportunities and are less likely than men to hold highly rewarded jobs. As the Women in Super alliance have identified, currently women retire with 47 per cent less superannuation than men (with 44 per cent of women forced to rely on their partners’ income as the main source of funds for retirement) and more concerning is th that 40 per cent of older single retired women are living in poverty and experiencing economic insecurity in retirement.

In 2020, the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief: The impact of COVID-19 on women reported that across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, “the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex”. The brief stated that with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back, moreover the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which in turn are amplifying the impacts of the pandemic.

This cannot be allowed to continue.