Gender parity for chief executives ‘could take 80 years’

The centre estimates that, based on current growth trends, gender parity will be reached for «other» managers by 2031 and for senior managers by 2037.

But at the top of the company, the rate of growth of female chief executives has barely moved over the past four years. The centre estimates parity of chief executives won’t be reached until 2100.

Report author Rebecca Cassells said there were positive signs for women as they moved up the corporate leader.

But the long climb facing potential female chief executives and the disparity in wages between men and women meant there were still major issues across corporate Australia.

«For those women that do make it to the top, we are seeing an added glass ceiling,» she said.

«Women in top-tier leadership positions are taking home smaller pay packets compared to their male counterparts.

«Simply breaking through the glass ceiling doesn’t provide women with the same wage opportunities.»

The pay disparity among male and female managers is across the spectrum.

Among the bottom paid 10 per cent of executives, men on average will bring home almost $20,000 a year more than women. Among the bottom 25 per cent, the gap is almost $40,000.

The worst-performing industry is real estate, where the pay gap between male and female managers is 36.9 per cent. The smallest gaps are in wholesale trade and public administration, at less than 2 per cent.

The study suggests the advent of women into management and boardrooms is leading to an increase in women at the top tiers of companies.

In companies with a female chief executive, the share of female full-time managers is on average 8.6 percentgage points higher than in those with male chief executives.

Companies that move from an all-male to a gender-equal boardroom result in a 7.3 percengage point increase in the proportion of full-time female managers and a 13.7 percengage point lift in part time female managers.

It also found large impacts from the supply of employer-provided paid parental leave and on-site childcare.

Female manager retention rates during paid parental leave increased 18.9 per cent, with the supply of childcare on a company’s premises.

Women with access to employer-supplied paid parental leave were 50 per cent more likely to keep working compared with those who had access only to the government paid parental leave scheme.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons said the report showed much more work was needed to breakdown barriers facing women in management.

Libby Lyons, director of the Australian Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said a child starting primary school this year would have to live to 90 to see gender parity among Australian CEOs.

Libby Lyons, director of the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said a child starting primary school this year would have to live to 90 to see gender parity among Australian CEOs.

«Children starting primary school this year will enter a workforce where they are likely to see gender balance at most management levels,» she said.

«Yet they will have to live to be almost 90 to see women reach equality at the CEO level.»

Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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