Financial outcomes for women have improved slightly, but experts warn the progress may not be genuine.
The Financy Women’s Index (FWX) rose 2 per cent in the September quarter to 73.6 points and was up 6 per cent on its September 2019 result, indicating that women's financial outcomes have improved nearly two years into the pandemic.
Moreover, the number of women on ASX 200 boards rose to a fresh high of 34 per cent in September, before dipping slightly in more recent figures.
Despite perceivably better outcomes for women, helped by a closing of key gender gaps in women on boards, employment and the underemployment rate, experts warn that it’s a cautionary tale of women’s economic progress.
In fact, during the September quarter, women suffered a 2.8 per cent drop in the number of monthly hours worked but men saw a bigger 3.2 per cent fall as they bore the brunt of lockdown-related job cuts in the September quarter. This produced a 0.3 per cent improvement in the FWX Employment Sub-Index.
Additionally, fresh data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that of the 19 key industries, female employment declined in only five sectors, but male employment fell across all of them.
“Women's progress must come from genuine improvements in equality against a backdrop of greater wellbeing for both men and women,” said Nicki Hutley, independent social impact economist.
"Policy makers must look to restore prosperity for all, while embedding policies that genuinely address gender equity.”
But it is the Gen Z findings that are most troubling, with full-time employment numbers among women under 25 years down 9 per cent in the September quarter and 10 per cent lower on September 2019 figures.
“The biggest risk moving forward is that women, particularly those aged under 25 years, emerge from the pandemic in a far worst financial position than when it began,” said Financy founder Bianca Hartge-Hazelman.
“As it stands, there are increased structural barriers that prevent many women from participating in paid work to their desired capacity and these affect the immediacy at which a person can take advantage of opportunities.”
Overall, according to Financy, it will now take 29.5 years for equality in employment, down from 29.8 years, 13.7 years for equality in underemployment, down from 16.1 years and 6.7 years of sustained progress at current rates to reach 50/50 gender diversity on ASX 200 boards.
Maja's career in journalism spans well over a decade across finance, business and politics. Now an experienced editor and reporter across all elements of the financial services sector, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies.
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