Determined to #BreaktheBias on International Women’s Day

Today as we mark International Women’s Day, the McGowan Government is celebrating the steps taken towards gender equality in the workplace, while acknowledging more still needs to be done.

Half of all Western Australians are women and girls, with women currently making up 47 per cent of the WA workforce, compared to 36 per cent in 1980. However, women are over-represented in part-time and casual work.

The State Government is strongly committed to providing safe and inclusive workplaces not only for public sector employees, but for all employees across WA regardless of industry or size.

The result of the 2021 State Election means WA women have never been more represented in State Parliament. For the first time, 52 per cent of Labor MP’s are women and women now make up 45 per cent of the WA Parliament.

State Parliament has also reached other significant milestones including the first Aboriginal woman elected to the WA Legislative Council, the 100th woman elected in Parliament and the first female Speaker in the WA Legislative Assembly.

Under the McGowan Government, State Government boards and committees are now comprised of 52 per cent women, compared to only 34 per cent of ASX 200 board members. In the WA public service, 44 per cent of members of the senior executive are now women (up from 34 per cent in 2017).

Despite 37 per cent of women holding a Bachelor Degree or above, compared with 29 per cent of men, WA’s gender pay gap is unacceptably high – 21.9 per cent compared with 14.2 per cent across Australia.

The gender pay gap starts early in Australia with 2018 salary data showing men’s undergraduate median starting salaries are greater than women’s in 16 out of 21 fields of study.

Women’s average superannuation balances at, or approaching retirement, are $290,000 compared to $360,000 for men.

Women also perform around 75 per cent of all unpaid work, including caring for children and others, housework, administration and volunteering.

As part of its commitment to building a culture that prioritises safe workplaces, the State Government is continuing to progress the recommendations of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, also known as Respect@Work.

The progress report can be found at https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-communities/implementing-respectwork-progress-report

In 2021, the State Government committed to progressing the 18 Respect@Work recommendations relevant to State and Territory government agencies, including:

  • implementation of Stronger Together: WA’s Plan for Gender Equality;
  • implementation of Path to Safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020-2030;
  • providing the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, the power to issue a stop sexual harassment order, consistent with the 2020 Respect@Work Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report;
  • development of Western Australia’s Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy;
  • delivery and expansion of the respectful relationships school support program;
  • increased legal services, advice, advocacy and education resources for people experiencing workplace sexual harassment;
  • review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), and
  • establishment of the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) program to enhance the State’s response to sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry.