International Women's Day

07-Mar-2018 2:32 PM

To help celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, we have looked at the numbers to see just how far women have come and how far as a community Australia has to go.
 

Birth, Deaths & quality of Life

While Australia has spent the last century near the top of global tables for life expectancy, the story has improved over time, especially for women. If you were a woman born in Australia between 1901 and 1910, you had a life expectancy of 58.8 years which was 3.6 years longer than men at the time, whose life expectancy was 55.2 years (Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2014).

Thanks in part to advances in health, sanitation and safety Australian females have the highest life expectancy ever recorded in Australia! In 2016, female life expectancy increased to 84.6 years and is now the sixth highest in the world (80.4 for males).

Women’s longer life expectancies may be due in part to their healthier habits. According to the 2014-15 National Health Survey, women were much less likely to drink at risky levels than men (9 per cent compared to 24 per cent), less likely to smoke on a daily basis (12.1 per cent compared to 16.9 per cent of males) and were less likely to be overweight or obese (56 per cent compared to 71 per cent of men). However, women were less likely to be active than men, with only 53 per cent of women aged 18-64 participating in sufficient physical activity a week to meet the guidelines, compared to 58 per cent of men.

 


Women in the workforce

One of the major changes in Australian society in recent decades has been a steady increase in female participation in the workforce. Improved education, smaller family sizes, and changing social norms have coincided with women accessing a wider range of careers, and spending more years in formal employment. In 1978, fewer than 44 per cent of women over the age of 15 participated in the labour force, today, almost forty years on, female participation has reached 60 per cent. This is still lower than the participation rate for males (around 70 per cent in 2017), but the gap is narrowing. Similarly, forty years ago 79 per cent of the part time workforce was female compared to 69 per cent today (Labour Force, Australia, Detailed Quarterly) .

The three largest industries employing women are preschool and school education (443,000), social assistance services (359,000) and hospitals (319,000). Ongoing efforts to increase gender diversity in traditionally male dominated industries has seen a 9 percentage point improvement in women in the Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Service industry and a 5 percentage point improvement in the Mining industry over the past 25 years. Traditional male dominated occupations have also seen improvements, over the last 10 years (since 2007) there has been a 14 per cent increase in female geologists, a 7 per cent increase in female architects, and a 1 per cent increase in female electricians (Labour Force, Australia, Jan 2018).

Though the ABS doesn't produce an official gender pay gap, Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings data does allow for the production of a gender pay gap or a ratio of female to male wages. Since 1994, the biggest gap between female to male wages was in November 2014, with an 18.6 per cent gap. In November 2017, this gap was 15.3 per cent. It’s important to note that while Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings can produce a very broad level indicator of female to male wages it doesn't take into account a range of compositional factors, such as occupations, hours worked, or industries.



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females in notable occupations

The 2016 Census revealed almost one-quarter (24 per cent or 21,211) of employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over were managers or professionals (such as teachers, doctors, journalists, authors, engineers, and lawyers) in 2016. This was higher than employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over (17 per cent or 15,976 people).

There were 4,260 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over that completed non-school qualifications in a STEM field of study in 2016 (compared with 25,431 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males aged 15 years and over). STEM relates to Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths subjects and includes the fields of Natural and Physical Sciences, Information Technology, Engineering and Related Technologies, and Agriculture, Environment and Related Studies. This accounted for 4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females that completed a non-school qualification.

The most common occupations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females with non-school qualifications in a STEM field of study were professionals (18 per cent), labourers (17 per cent) or technicians and trades workers (16 per cent). The most common industries for these women were public administration and safety (14 per cent) and health care and social assistance (12 per cent).


National conversation on Sexual Harassment 

Sexual harassment is a serious issue affecting men and women from all walks of life. The 2016 Personal Safety Survey has helped contribute to the national conversation on sexual harassment in Australia. The survey collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of selected types of sexual harassment by male and female perpetrators, for both lifetime experiences and the 12 months prior to the survey. Overall, women aged 18 years and over were more likely to experience sexual harassment in their lifetime than men - approximately one in two women (53 per cent or 5 million) had experienced sexual harassment by a male or female perpetrator during their lifetime. Of the estimated 4.9 million women who experienced sexual harassment by a male perpetrator, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:

 
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (61 per cent or 3 million)
  • unwanted touching grabbing, kissing or fondling (57 per cent or 2.8 million)
  • indecent exposure (42 per cent or 2.1 million).

Of the 989,900 women who experienced sexual harassment by a female perpetrator, the most commonly reported forms of sexual harassment were:
 
  • inappropriate comments about body or sex life (61 per cent or 604,600)
  • unwanted touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling (24 per cent or 238,800)
  • indecent text, email or post (20 per cent or 200,200).



There are a number of services available for individuals experiencing violence. If you or someone you know needs help please contact: Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14, 1800 respect - 1800 737 732, Mensline – 1300 78 99 78 or Kids Helpline – 1800 550 1800.

 
The ABS recognises the valuable contribution that those who provide unpaid care to older people (aged 65 years and over) or people with disability make to the lives of those for whom they care. According to the 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, there were 2.6 million carers in Australia aged 15 years and over (living in households). Primary carers (that is, the main provider of informal care) made up 855,900 (or 32.4 per cent) of all carers, of whom females represented around two-thirds (68.1 per cent).

While caring can be very rewarding for the carer, the time taken to care for someone can impact on the carer's ability to remain engaged in the community, participate in the workforce and stay healthy. The labour force participation rate for females aged 15-64 years who were primary carers was lower than for their non–carer counterparts (53.7 per cent compared with 75.5 per cent).

Of all female primary carers aged 15-64 years who reported their income, the most commonly reported main source of personal income was 'Government pension or allowance' (44.4 per cent). In comparison, the most commonly reported main source of personal income of female non-carers was 'Wages or salary' (62.5 per cent). The median gross personal income per week of female primary carers was $500 compared with $730 for their non-carer counterparts.

 
Education means a lot more than obtaining a certificate, it enables people to realise their potential and participate more fully in a productive society. According to Census data the gap in educational attainment between men and women has narrowed over the past decade.   
In 2006, 51 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women reported holding a non-school qualification. In 2016, this gap was smaller: 58 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women.

In 2016, a larger proportion of women (67 per cent) in the younger age group of 20-34 years held non-school qualifications than men (62 per cent), contributing to the narrowing of the gap between both sexes. This was particularly evident for women aged 20-24 years, where 50 per cent held non-school qualifications compared with 43 per cent of men.


 


The domestic duty gap

In 2016, women were still doing the majority of domestic house work. The 2016 Census revealed over half of employed men did less than five hours per week of unpaid domestic work (60 per cent) compared with a third of employed women (36 per cent). Men were also less likely than women to do 15 hours or more per week of unpaid domestic work (8 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women).





#Press for Progress

The theme for the United Nations’ International Women’s Day 2018 is #Press for Progress – a call to action for people to take steps to promote gender parity. 

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