A changing climate for Australian women in the workforce

ECONOMY • March 21, 2019

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the rate of women entering the workforce is rising at an incredible rate. In 1978, when the ABS first started reporting on Australian employment, men dominated the labour force accounting for almost two thirds of Australia’s working population. Fast forward four decades to 2019 and the ratio of women to men is close to 50-50. Women in employment has grown by 184% since 1978; in comparison the male working population only increased 74% over the same time. Prior to the 1990’s, the ABS reported no instances where women had a lesser unemployment rate than that of men.

Australian women in the workforce---infographic

Despite current stereotypes of male-dominated white collar industries, data from the Property Male Champions of Change (PMCC) show that 75% of major Australian property companies have achieved an equality ratio between 40-60% of women overall. AMP Capital, CBRE, Charter Hall, Investa and QIC require 40:40:20 gender diversity on all recruitment panels and shortlists. In fact, 79% of men and 70% of women think that the property industry has become more diverse and inclusive.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has also recognised Dexus, Mirvac, Frasers, The GPT Group, Scentre Group and Stockland as being Employers of Choice for Gender Equality in the construction, rental hiring and real-estate industries.

ABS statistics released today show that the gap between female and male unemployment is closing at 5.0% and 4.9% respectively. The current unemployment rate has has fallen again to 4.9%.

The WGEA Gender Equality Insights report stated female representation in key management positions have seen the fastest growth rate from 2014 to 2018 at 4.4%. It is expected that within two decades women will have equal representation in full time managerial roles. However, gender pay gaps represent a barrier for women reducing the share of female managers by 9.9%.

WGEA suggests that despite a changing climate, women in key management positions and the pay gap remain an issue for all industries. The Rental, Hiring Real Estate sector has the highest pay gap for those on the highest pay (90th percentile) at 35.6 per cent in comparison to wholesale trade at 1.4%. Across all industries assessed, the average total remuneration gap is 24.1%.

The Convener of the PMCC and former Property Council President, Carol Schwartz AM, notes that in order to achieve an equal workplace, companies must do more in changing the “boys club” mentality and promote diversity.

“Over the next year the PMCC will be working on growing the talent pool, cascading commitment to managers, building an inclusive industry, and addressing domestic and family violence as a workplace issue,” said Ms Schwartz.

“We need to continue working at changing the systems and culture that are remaining barriers to women entering and progressing,” Ms Schwartz concluded.

For more details on diversity initiatives within the property industry, visit 

*Written by Anna Brown

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