There has been little change to the proportion of female employees at Australia’s technology and telecommunications companies, although the gender pay gap is trending down, according to new data release today by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
The agency collects workforce composition and remuneration information from all non-public sector employers with 100 or more employers and publishes its dataset annually.
Across all organisations relating to tech and telecoms, the proportion of female employees was – as per all years since the data was first collected in 2014 – far below the 50 per cent average of all industries.
However, in most of those companies the gender pay gap was less than the 22.4 per cent average seen in all organisations.
The gender pay gap is defined by the agency as the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.
It is an indicator of women’s overall position in the workforce and does not compare like roles.
Mind the gap
Women made up 24.9 per cent of the workforce in the 17 organisations in data processing, web hosting and electronic information storage services, up just a tenth of a percentage point from last year.
The gender pay gap in this industry has fallen somewhat, however, down to 23 per cent from 26 per cent this year, and now close to the average across all industries (22.4 per cent).
At internet service providers and web search portals – of which there are five organisations in Australia covered by the survey – women make up 31.7 per cent of employees. This represents a gradual improvement over the last three years from the 26.1 per cent female workforce recorded in 2014.
The gender pay gap in these companies is considerably lower than the all industries average at 14.1 per cent.
Employees at the 39 telecommunications companies in Australia are made up of 30.8 per cent females. That figure has been decreasing slightly every year since the 32.4 per cent female make-up measured in 2014.
The gender pay gap at these organisations continues to trend down and has fallen to 19.5 per cent, below the all industries average.
The female proportion of employees at computer system design and related services companies (114 organisations) is practically unchanged at 25.5 per cent.
The gender pay gap at these companies, however, is among the lowest across all industries, and continues to fall, reaching 11.7 per cent this year.
The worst gender pay gap of all sectors was in financial and insurance services at 31.9 per cent, closely followed by the 31.4 per cent gap in rental, hiring and real estate services. Construction and mining were the industries with the lowest proportion of women in the workforce
More to be done
Employers across all industries are putting more focus on addressing gender pay equity.
Over half of reporting organisations now have formal strategies and policies on remuneration. There has also been a substantial increase in employers adopting targeted strategies to support gender equality in areas such as succession planning, retention and promotion.
More employers report having key performance indicators for managers linked to gender equality outcomes.
“While I am pleased to report such great progress – and I commend these employers for their efforts – our gender equality indicators tell us there is much more to be done. While the overall gender pay gap is trending down, which is good news, men still out-earn women by more than $26,000 on average with pay gaps in every industry and occupation,” said WGEA director Libby Lyons.
The dataset indicates little change to the gender balance of Australia’s boardrooms (at 24.9 per cent).
“Men still dominate the faces around these top tables and the data suggests boards are not engaging with gender equality issues. As the guardians of organisational strategy, boards must step up if we are to continue building momentum for change,” Lyons added.
Although women remain under-represented in management roles, they are now being promoted to such roles at a higher rate than previous years.
Some way to go
While public sector organisations are not required to submit information to the WGEA, yesterday CSIRO’s Data61 this week revealed that women make up 22 per cent of its workforce.
“This is clearly not good enough,” Data61 said, “Some early initiatives are good first steps. There is still some way for us to go to open up more opportunities for women to work at Data61 and succeed into senior level positions.”
The group yesterday held a Women in Technology event, where females in the field shared their experiences, and are also backing the Girls Programming Network which teaches girls how to code.
At the event, Data61 CEO Adrian Turner called the lack of diversity in the industry a “crisis”.