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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2794 ..


(ii) executive and non-executive levels in the ACTPS; and

(c) identify possible reporting mechanisms that capture:

(i) gender gaps between full-time, part-time and casual employees; and

(ii) a breakdown of the pay gap experienced by women from diverse groups (Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, and people with a disability).

I cannot stress enough the importance of this motion. Since the first attempts at legislating equal pay for equal work in this country, our understanding of the gender pay gap has evolved into a complex phenomenon with many branches, matching the growth of our now similarly more mature and complex economy. It is therefore the responsibility of governments—state, territory and federal—to remain alert to the gender pay gap and the manner in which it presents, and to respond appropriately.

The best place to start to gain an understanding of how the gender pay gap presents in 2021 is UN Women Australia’s own definition of “equal pay for work of equal value”. UN Women Australia note:

Equal pay means that all workers have the right to receive equal remuneration for work of equal value. While the concept is straightforward, what equal pay actually entails and how it’s applied in practice has proven to be difficult.

UN Women elaborated by saying:

Work of equal value can mean a job that is the same or similar, as well as a job that is not the same but is of equal value. This distinction is important because women’s and men’s work may involve different types of qualifications, skills, responsibilities, or working conditions, yet be of equal value and therefore merit equal pay.

For instance, a career in the still male-dominated construction sector pays well over a career in the early childhood education sector, a largely female-dominated sector, despite both professions presenting an equally high value of service to the economy. This is not to criticise the value of a construction worker’s labour, which is indeed significant, but rather to point out the severe and, frankly, cynical economic and social devaluation of early childhood education and its predominantly female workforce.

Many of us here would be familiar with some of the key reasons as to why the gender pay gap might persist. But for those who require a refresher, UN Women Australia identifies the main culprits, and reports:

The lasting impacts of restrictive, traditional gender roles are responsible for creating and sustaining pay inequalities. Gender stereotypes steer women away from occupations that have traditionally been dominated by men and push them toward care-focused work that is often regarded as “unskilled”, or “soft-skilled” and therefore, lower paid.

The motherhood penalty is another reason for the pay inequity. On average, working mothers are paid less than non-mothers, and the disparity increases as


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