WOMEN forced to juggle full-time work with care-giving roles are hitting their peak salary earlier than men - and topping out at $239 a week less.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed women aged 35 to 44 and working full time earned a median weekly income of $1500 - their highest-earning age bracket.

Men, on the other hand, averaged $1700 at that age and continued to climb salary ranks until averaging $1739 a week at age 45 to 54.

Cairns recruitment firm Elite Executive's managing director Eva Grabner said while many employers were tolerant of women juggling care-giving and work, a number of factors contributed to the wage inequality scenario.

Eva Grabner from Elite Executive Recruitment with her six-year-old son Kai. Picture: Stewart McLean
Eva Grabner from Elite Executive Recruitment with her six-year-old son Kai. Picture: Stewart McLean

"One being that some women take maternity leave to have children and unless their role is held for them, they can in some cases struggle to find work when re-entering the workplace," she said.

"With an ever-changing and adapting world, some parents need to update their skills before returning to the workplace."

Ms Grabner, who pays herself a salary and is a mother of one, said that as an executive recruiter, she found men being able to negotiate salaries better than women.

"I coach a lot of women around this. Many women struggle to ask for what they are worth when they really should do their research before interviewing," she said.

"Salaries in every business need to be based on experience, skills and best fit for the business," she said.

"It's not always about salary either. Benefits can be a huge consideration and especially in the case of mothers, a flexible workplace is a lot more attractive."

As for juggling work and care-giving duties, Ms Grabner said it was about focus and separation of roles.

"When I'm working, I'm focused on that 100 per cent. When I'm with my son, he gets all my attention," she said.

"I do get mum guilt, but I try not to beat myself about it. Every mum struggles wit that, but we do our best to get through it and there are avenues for help if you need."

Eva Grabner at her workplace.
Eva Grabner at her workplace.


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Workplace Gender Equality Agency engagement executive manager Kate Lee said there were a combination of factors.

These included men dominating leadership roles and unconscious bias against women when promotions become available as employers question women's commitment once they have children.

Ms Lee said WGEA data showed a concerning trend of "gender equality fatigue" as some organisations put equality policies to one side during the disruption of COVID-19 "in favour of other business imperatives".

Although the portion of employers who conducted a pay gap analysis increased last year, the portion who took action as a result dropped by 6.1 per cent.

It was the first time that figure had declined since WGEA records began in 2013.







Originally published as 'Gender equality fatigue': Women fall short on wages

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