Women paid a third less than men on the Northern Rivers

MEN on the Northern Rivers area are getting paid about $11,000 a year more than women - that's 33% more.

Out of data collected from local government areas in the region, Ballina recorded the highest pay gap with men being paid about $13,600 more than women on average.

Richmond Valley had the second highest pay gap of about $11,500 and Lismore recorded the lowest pay gap of about $9000.

The figures, calculated from Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley local government area data, showed machinery operator roles had the biggest pay gap, where men were paid about $19,000 more than women on average.

Across the five areas, men earn about $44,000 on average and women earn $33,000.

The region's pay gap is less than the state average.

A graphic showing the pay gap by profession/trade on the Northern Rivers.
A graphic showing the pay gap by profession/trade on the Northern Rivers.

In NSW, men get paid about $22,000 more on average than women, which is about a 34% gap.

National Council of Women member and equal pay advocate Elise Stephenson said these Australian Bureau of Statistics wage and salary earner figures from 2010/11 had not changed.

The university student said it also revealed just how bad the problem was.

"People think we're doing much better than we're actually doing," she said. "And when you've got a perception that 'we're doing fine', there is less emphasis to change things."

Ms Stephenson said it was "absolutely ridiculous" and "outdated" that men were still getting paid more than women.

"Money is the main way we value work in our society," she said.

"What does it tell us of how we value our women?"

Experts say there are several reasons why women still fall behind men when it comes to wages, from employers offering less money to women deciding between a job at lower pay and no job at all.

Difference between average male and female incomes:

  • Ballina: $13,586, or 28%
  • Richmond Valley: $11,539, or 26%
  • Kyogle: $10,882, or 25%
  • Byron: $10,171, or 24%
  • Lismore: $9120, or 20%

Ms Stephenson said research showed women were more reluctant than men to negotiate.

"There has been research done on how women are more reluctant to put themselves forward," she said.

"A man will go and ask for a promotion and then prove himself but a woman will tend to prove herself and then ask for a promotion."

University of Queensland political science professor Gillian Whitehouse said women were more likely to be offered and accept lower pay than men for entry-level jobs such as graduate positions.

She said some workforces still had a gender pay gap on base-level jobs and it meant women would be behind men for the rest of their career.

But no matter what the reason, Ms Stephenson said these factors could lead to women earning hundreds of thousands, or sometimes millions, of dollars less than a man in the same position over a lifetime.

She said there was no excuse.

"Just because we don't ask doesn't mean we shouldn't be paid equally," she said.

In combating the problem, she said the first responsibility fell to governments, businesses and employers.

Ms Stephenson also encouraged women to ask their employers about pay policies.

"If all women in Australia demanded employers paid equally, they'd have to, because that's half the workforce right there."

She also said men had a responsibility to join the fight and that it could be a wife, sister or girlfriend who was missing out on equal pay.

- APN NEWSDESK

IN AUSTRALIA:

  • Pay gap is 18.8%
  • This is almost $300 a week
  • On average, a woman has to work 66 extra days to equal a man's pay
  • Industries with the highest pay gaps: Financial and insurance services (29.6%), health care (29.1%) and real estate (28.7%)
  • Industries with lowest pay gaps: Public administration and safety (7.2%), accommodation and food (9%) and electricity, water and waste (9.1%)
  • Queensland has second highest gap in the country, behind WA
  • NSW has third highest


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