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The resounding success of Australia's Matildas in the World Cup has brought not only applause and adulation but also placed a glaring spotlight on a pervasive issue: pay and funding inequality in women's sports. Sadly, this isn't just a sports-related issue; it's an issue that permeates across Australian society, where the current total remuneration gap between men and women is a whopping 22.8% (WGEA). In simpler terms, women in Australia earn 77.2 cents for every dollar a man earns. On Equal Pay Day, let's examine Australia's pay and wealth gap, explore its implications for women's financial security, and discuss practical steps we can take to bridge this divide.
Exposing the Inequalities in Women’s Remuneration
The recent success of the Matildas at the Women’s Soccer World Cup far exceeded our expectations. Not only did they finish 4th, the highest ranking of any team at a senior playing level ever, but they smashed tv ratings, played to sell out crowds and generated over $887 million in revenue for the Australian economy, breaking even the cost to run the tournament. Despite their success, it's hard to ignore the contrast in remuneration between male and female players. The Women's Soccer World Cup prize pool stands at $171 million, while the men's is a staggering $686 million – four times larger. It’s estimated that after having finished in fourth place, the Matildas will earn about $257,000 each. The same spotlight should be directed to Australian society, where the gender total remuneration gap (base salary plus bonuses, overtime and additional payments) of 22.8% translates to a substantial $25,596 difference in earnings over a year.
The Ripple Effect of the Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is more than just a statistic; it's a catalyst for a larger issue - the gender wealth gap. The gender wealth gap refers to the disparity in accumulated financial assets and resources between men and women, often resulting from various factors including differences in income, savings, investments, and overall financial opportunities. The impact of the gender wealth gap affects women’s economic security with the average Australian woman retiring with 23% less superannuation than her male counterparts and it also limits Australia’s economic growth. Today is Equal Pay Day which symbolises the extra days women must work beyond the end of the financial year to catch up in earnings. This year it stands at 56 days of extra work.
Confronting the Wealth Gap
The gender pay and wealth gap need not be permanent. In fact, we’ve made some terrific progress in recent years toward closing the gap. On a micro level, the Matilda's success has seen the Albanese government announce an additional $200 million in funding in women’s sport. Just this week, the AFL announced equal prize money for the men and women's leagues. Recent data from the Australian bureau of statistics indicated that the gender pay gap (base earnings only) fell for the second straight cycle to the lowest level on record, down to 13.0% thanks to the women's workforce participation rate hitting a record high of 62.6% in June (ABS). Whilst the trend is heading in the right direction, there remains much to be done to close the gap once and for all!
Here’s five ways we can all take action to close the gap:
- Negotiate Better Pay:
In a competitive job market with inflationary pressure, seize the opportunity to negotiate a pay rise that aligns with your market value.
- Advocate for better Workplace Policies:
Push for policies that support women's workforce participation including paid parental leave with superannuation contributions and flexible work arrangements.
- Government Initiatives:
Demand more robust government initiatives that support women's participation in the workforce and promote financial parity.
- Financial Literacy:
Arm yourself with financial knowledge to make informed decisions that boost your financial well-being.
- Plan for Career Interruptions:
Life isn't always linear. Plan for career interruptions by making extra super contributions to cushion the financial impact of time away from the workforce.
A Call for Change
This Equal Pay Day, let's acknowledge the progress we've made in narrowing the gender pay gap and elevating women's presence in sports. However, let's not rest on our laurels; the journey is far from over. We must continue advocating for change, pushing towards a society that stands on equal ground – economically, socially, and athletically.
As the cheers for the Matildas reverberate, let's echo those cheers for every woman, whether on the field or in the office. The gender pay gap isn't a mere discrepancy; it's a challenge to our collective sense of fairness and equality. Let this Equal Pay Day be a reminder that progress is possible, change is achievable, and together, we can bridge the pay and wealth gap for good. Let's write a new chapter, one where equality is the undeniable rule and financial security knows no gender boundaries.