Women lose out on WA payrolls
Women lose out on WA payrolls

The gap between what men and women earn in WA is much bigger than it was a decade ago, according to a State Government report.

There are also still "significant barriers" that stop women taking leadership roles at work and in the community, it says.

WA's resources boom and a lack of women in mining were largely blamed for the blowout in the State's gender pay gap from 21 per cent in 2000 to 28 per cent last year.

The national gap last year was 18 per cent.

The report also found that the number of women chief executives or directors for Australia's top 200 listed companies was virtually unchanged from the "very low" levels of 2002.

And of Australians with at least $100,000 in superannuation, fewer than one-third are women.

The Government's so-called women's report card is compiled every four years as a snapshot of life for WA women.

The 2012 report also has good news, including that WA women have Australia's highest work participation rate at 60 per cent and the number of women on government boards has increased.

New figures compiled since the report was finished suggest the gender pay gap had narrowed slightly to just under 26 per cent.

But the report said significant barriers to women getting leadership roles persisted.

Minister for Women's Interests Robyn McSweeney said the report gave government, businesses and the community information on improving opportunities for women.

Economic independence was a priority in the Government's women's interests strategy paper released this year and the WA Government had policies already in place, such as scholarships for women to the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms McSweeney said the resources sector was a big contributor to high wages in WA. It employed 2 per cent of workers nationally but 11 per cent in WA and these workers were mainly men.

"It is understood that this has a significant impact on the gender wage gap," she said. "Encouraging women to enter these non-traditional fields is one strategy to reduce the pay gap."

WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said the mining boom was not solely to blame for the gender pay gap because some of the biggest gaps were in fields such as health care and financial services.

"Some of the gaps there are really significant," Ms Henderson said.

"It's partly because Western Australia still has a very much sex- segregated workforce, so in the health sector, for example, women are predominantly employed in the lower-paid occupations where they overwhelmingly are the majority.

"The general tendency is to say it's all because of the mining boom, but I don't think that is the case.

"There is a lot of work to be done to talk to young women students to tell them about opportunities in engineering and some of the other scientific and technical areas that would be attractive to them."

The West Australian

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