BCEC Report

Gender Equity Insights 2019: Breaking through the Glass Ceiling

Report SeriesGender Equity Insights
AuthorsRebecca Cassells, Alan Duncan
PublishedMarch 2019
PublisherBankwest Curtin Economics Centre
Number of Pages68

Glass ceilings have featured heavily in Australia’s workplaces for centuries but in recent years significant changes have been made.

Women now make up almost 50% of Australia’s workforce and hold around 40% of all full-time jobs.

Although women still remain under-represented in positions of power and over-represented in lower-paid jobs, this report shows they are likely to dominate middle management roles in years to come.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has partnered with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to help improve gender equality throughout Australia’s workplaces.

This fourth report in the BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights Series, provides insight into positive change that has been made across different sectors in recent years and highlights the importance of workplace policy initiatives in ensuring women continue to progress into senior positions and in narrowing the gender pay gap in Australia.

The findings showcase the crucial role flexible workplace policies, employer provided on-site child care and employer-funded paid parental leave has on achieving this positive change.

  • If the current growth patterns continue, we can expect to see equal representation of women and men in full-time Key Management Personnel roles by 2030, but will have to wait until 2100 for equal shares of female CEOs.
  • The highest paid men are earning at least $162,000 more than the highest paid women.
  • Employer-funded paid parental leave schemes covering 13-plus weeks halves the share of female managers who stop working during PPL relative to those who access only the Australian Government PPL scheme.
  • Flexible work arrangements coupled with reporting to Boards increases the share of part-time female managers by 13.6 ppts.
  • The share of female full-time managers increases by an average of 8.6 ppts for companies with a female CEO. And moving from all-male to gender-equal company boards increases the share of full-time female managers by 7.3 ppts and the share of part-time female managers by 13.7 ppts.
  • Gender pay gaps at different levels of management seniority combine to reduce the share of full-time female managers by an average of 9.9 ppts, and the share of part-time female managers by 7.9 ppts.
  • Employer-provided onsite childcare increases the retention of female managers during PPL by almost one-fifth (18.9%).
  • Women are noticeably under-represented among top-tier managers in the Health Care sector (51.9%) relative to their overall presence in the workforce (71%).
  • Women are most under-represented in top-tier management positions. However, this category has seen the fastest growth rate, increasing by 4.4 ppts in the last five years.
  • The glass ceiling remains a barrier for women at CEO level, with very little movement in the last five years (+1.1 ppt).