The second half of 2018 saw the gender gap in superannuation narrow slightly, but other areas – such as the 26 per cent gender pay gap in the finance sector – indicate that “further work is still needed” to be done, according to the Financy Women’s Index.
The latest Financy Women’s Index (FWX) report, released quarterly, revealed that Australian women’s economic progress improved marginally in the quarter leading up to June.
The index reading for June was 111.0, up 0.3 per cent from the March quarter, which had a reading of 110.7.
The FWX, using data from Data Digger, measures the gender pay gap, women in full-time work, women’s employment participation rate, the tertiary education index, ASX20 board representation and the superannuation gender gap.
The superannuation gender gap appeared to be diminishing slightly, with the report citing annual ABS statistics that showed a 6 per cent reduction in disparity between male and female super balances.
That is, from 2013-14, women’s superannuation balances represented only 66 per cent of what men had, but in 2015-16 this had risen to 73 per cent.
Data from AustralianSuper also showed a marginal drop in the gender disparity in super balances at retirement age, with women having 30 per cent less in their accounts than men in 2017 as compared to 31 per cent in 2016.
“Overall, each of the data sources suggests the gender savings gap within superannuation is narrowing,” the report said.
But AustralianSuper group executive for membership Rose Kerlin indicated that the gender gap in super was not closing fast enough.
“Further work is still needed in the areas of equal pay, equality of opportunity and more equal sharing of family responsibilities to close the gap which results in too many women having insufficient savings to fund a comfortable retirement,” she said.
The percentage of women on ASX20 boards had also improved incrementally, rising from 30.1 per cent in the March quarter to 30.2 per cent in the June quarter.
However, the report revealed that the financial and insurance sector has the biggest wage disparity of all Australian industries at 26.1 per cent.
The average weekly earnings of a man in this sector comes to $2,126 while women earn $1,572 – a difference of $554.
The Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Philip Kewin indicated he was disheartened by the gap.
“It is disappointing to see that, at 26.1 per cent, the financial and insurance services industry has the highest pay disparity of all industries,” Mr Kewin said.
AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver and FWX advisory committee member outlined the various ways in which the improved economic position of women was not only critical from a "social and ethical point of view” but could also help the economy.
“Greater female participation in our economy can help soften the impact of the aging population. And perhaps even more importantly a more gender diverse economy will be a more productive economy,” Mr Oliver said.