Good news and bad news for the women of Australia

First the good news: we’ve come a long way in reducing gender inequality in the workplace.

Back in the 1950s, only a third of women aged 25 to 60 had paid work – and many women were not allowed to work after marriage. Now, more than 60 per cent of women work – the highest share Australia has ever achieved.

This advance did not happen by accident. Many policy changes have helped.

In the 1970s, for example, a million women in Australia became eligible for equal pay. An equal minimum wage was legislated, removing the extra "breadwinner" component that men used to get. Paid maternity leave became available to Commonwealth employees. And the government started investing in childcare centres and working women’s centres.

But now for the bad news: we’ve still got a long way to go in reducing gender inequality in the workplace.

A new Grattan Institute report shows that the median-income bachelor-degree female graduate in Australia earns 27 per cent less than the median-income bachelor-degree male graduate over their career. That’s $750,000 less for the woman over her lifetime. Read more...