A study has revealed 63 per cent of single women who retire in 2035 will not achieve a comfortable standard of living, and 38.7 per cent will retire in poverty. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said females will receive half of a males’ superannuation, and 60 per cent of women will miss out on superannuation altogether.

Between 2006-2015, Australia ranked 15 on the gender gap index, but it fell to 36th position last year. This placed Australia behind developing countries, such as Rwanda and Mozambique, in terms of equal pay. Western Australia is reported to have the worst wage gap for women, with a 24.9 per cent difference, followed by the Northern Territory with a 20 per cent gap, and NSW with a 17.9 per cent difference in pay.

The ACTU report, released last month, said women in Australia were more likely to experience a gender gap today than 20 years ago, with a 19.1 per cent pay difference for full-time work. The report revealed the gap is significantly higher for women in managerial positions, who receive 29 per cent difference in what a male would earn in the same role.

“Women tend to achieve managerial levels later, because child-bearing coincides with the prime ‘career-building’ time in both men’s and women’s lives. While maternity leave preserves a woman’s current job, very few organisations facilitate career development in the same way for women who are taking or have taken ‘time out’. Also, it’s still taking a long, long time to break down the stereotype that ‘managers are male, not female,” Professor Mary Barrett said.

The industries with the highest pay gap have been identified as being financial and insurance services with 30 per cent pay gap; rental, hiring and real estate with a 27.3 per cent gap; and health care and social assistance with a 26.8 per cent pay gap.

“I think the gender gap may not be affected by gender issues alone, but more on the challenge dealt with by a job or position. It should be noted as well that women have a right for maternity leave which men do not have,” Parulian Silaen said.  

The ACTU report revealed female graduates earn $2,000 less per annum full-time work than their male counterparts.

“It’s taking a long, long time for these pay gaps and other inequalities even to begin to shrink, and some of them are getting worse, not better. The numbers of women on Australian corporate boards have been slipping recently, for example. Without avowed feminists, we could easily fall back to where we were 30 years ago,” Professor Barrett said.