*Guest Post from Money101

Tuesday, 8 March 2022 marks International Women’s Day. The occasion asks us to imagine a world of true gender equality, free of bias and discrimination; one where difference is valued and celebrated.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias. We’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Individuals can make a difference in breaking gender bias in our communities and workplaces.

Conscious and unconscious bias and discrimination in hiring and pay decisions have been cited as one of the drivers of the gender pay gap in Australia and New Zealand. Ingrained cultural biases, including assumptions about the kind of work women or men are capable of undertaking, disadvantage women and contribute to this pay gap.

According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s latest scorecard, the gender pay gap currently sits at 22.8 percent. Although some strides have been made – 4 in 10 employers have been found to narrow their pay gap in the last year, 3 in 5 employers now offer paid parental leave, and over half of the employers now offer paid domestic violence leave (compared to 12 percent in 2015-16) – it is nevertheless clear there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equity.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency describes gender bias as “pervasive in Australian workplaces”. The Agency outlines that gender bias creates inequalities at every stage of the employment cycle. These include stereotypes that persist around employee roles, salary negotiations, managerial feedback, and career development opportunities. These factors have a compounding effect across women’s careers, leading to sustained inequality.

Retirement savings are the culmination of a lifetime of contributions; therefore, the gender gap also persists into retirement. In the years approaching retirement, the gender pay gap in Australia can be anywhere between 22 percent and 35 percent[1]. The median superannuation balance for men aged 60-64 years is $204,107, whereas for women in the same age group it is $146,900, a gap of around 28 percent[2].

In New Zealand, KiwiSaver balances for women aged 55-64 are already almost a quarter lower than those of men, even though the scheme only started in 2007[3].

How can we help tackle gender bias and ultimately gender inequality? The organisers of International Women’s Day organisers say we should[4]:

  • maintain a gender equal mindset;
  • challenge gender stereotypes, discrimination and bias;
  • call out gendered actions or assumptions;
  • celebrate women’s achievements; and
  • do our part to help forge gender equality.

[1] https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2021/08/gender-superannuation-gap.html
[2] https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2021/08/gender-superannuation-gap.html
[3] https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/458102/bad-then-worse-now-how-covid-19-will-hurt-retired-women
[4] https://www.internationalwomensday.com/SelfieCards

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