New WGEA report brings most comprehensive analysis of gender equality in the Commonwealth public sector

A new report released today by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) provides the first comparable results of the gender pay gap and gender equality performance of the Commonwealth public sector, compared to Australia’s private sector.

The WGEA Commonwealth Public Sector Gender Equality Scorecard: Key Employer Results from 2022 shows on average, women working in the Federal public sector earn 86 cents for every dollar men earn.

The total remuneration average gender pay gap of 13.5% equates to a difference of $19,000 every year. This is 8.2 percentage points lower than the average total remuneration gender pay gap in the private sector of 21.7%.

The Scorecard is the first of a new annual report series publishing the results from Commonwealth public sector Gender Equality Reporting to WGEA against the 6 gender equality indicators (GEIs).

Other key results include:

  • The mid-point of employer gender pay gaps is lower than the private sector: 50% of employers have a median total remuneration gender pay gap above 6.9%, compared to 9.1% for the private sector.

  • Management positions are gender-balanced overall: Close to half (48%) of all Commonwealth public sector employers have a gender-balanced management team (compared to 27% in the private sector), 21% have a men-dominated management team and 31% have a women-dominated management team (57% and 23%, respectively, for the private sector).

  • Men are more likely to be higher paid: Men are 2.5 times more likely to be in the highest paying quartile (this compares to 1.9 times in the private sector), driven in part by highly paid non-manager roles (professionals, trades and technicians) which predominantly employ men.

  • Many women and men are working full-time – flexibly: Three quarters (75%) of employees in the Commonwealth public sector work full‑time (compared to 54% in the private sector) and just 9% work part-time (21% in the private sector). Women are more likely to work full-time (73%) than in the private sector where almost 3 in 5 women (59%) are employed part-time or casually. This could reflect a normalisation of flexible working arrangements in the public sector.

  • Men account for 11% of universal or primary carer’s leave taken (compared to 14% in the private sector). And although 99% of employers offer paid parental leave, just 13% offer it universally without labels of ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ carer. This is significantly lower than the private sector (21%).

WGEA CEO Mary Wooldridge said the Scorecard sets a baseline to inform employer action and improvement to accelerate progress to reduce the gender pay gap.

“A key message from this first Commonwealth Public Sector Gender Equality Scorecard is that good policies alone do not translate into outcomes. Positive change takes thought and deliberate action,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“The Scorecard shows the Commonwealth public sector has benefited from clearly articulated commitments and sector-wide reforms in areas the private sector finds difficult to change, such as gender balance in management positions.

“Commonwealth public sector employers are also taking actions to deliver flexibility that helps empower more women to take leadership roles and drives gender balance in key management positions.

“But more does need to be done across all employers to continue to reduce the gender pay gap, including to combat stereotypes that deter men from taking parental leave and around women in non-manager roles.”

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