Australia doesn’t have just one minimum wage – it has a different minimum wage for each award set by the Fair Work Commission. So why does the Commission set lower minimum wages for jobs more commonly held by women?
Dr Barbara Broadway and Professor Roger Wilkins of the University of Melbourne suggest minimum wages could do more to close the gender wage gap if the Commission’s decisions were neutral with respect to the gender composition of jobs. Drawing on HILDA Survey data from 2008 to 2014, their research found that award-reliant women earn approximately 10% less per hour than award-reliant men. Professor Barbara Pocock, founder Director of the Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia, advised BPW that historically the pay gap narrowed most significantly whenever the minimum wage was lifted.
BPW Australia conducts an annual Equal Pay Day campaign; in 2018 this will include advocating for gender neutrality in minimum wage decisions.