The gender pay gap in Australia is widening but here's how women can gain financial independence

Australia’s gender pay gap continues to widen, and is now standing at a 20-year high.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that full‑time male workers earn an average of $1587.40 per week, whereas women earn $298.10 less on average – that’s almost 19%.

“Women in finance and insurance are earning the same amount male colleagues were earning 10 years ago,” says Dr Gemma Munro, founder of Inkling Women.

Munro criticises the Federal Government’s lack of gender equity reporting, saying a lack of female representation in leadership will cause a significant blow to economic growth and business performance.

“The growing body of research on gender equity shows that financial performance improves by merely reaching targets of 30% of women at executive level,” Munro said.

However, a recent report suggests that the wage gap can be explained through the types of jobs women choose to work in.

“The overall wage gap favouring males can be partly attributed to an over-representation of males in fields of education that typically attract higher starting salaries, such as Engineering,” read the Graduate Careers report.

“Likewise, females were over-represented relative to males when it came to Humanities, which was ranked at the lower end of the salary distribution.”

So with this in mind, what can women do to ensure their financial independence?

According to Sarah Riegelhuth, a wealth management expert and co-founder of Wealth Enhancers, educating women on the importance of superannuation is one of the key factors in helping women gain financial security and control.

“Being financially independent is about having a sense of empowerment and choice over the direction of your life,” she said.

“Not only is divorce acceptable, and unfortunately common these day, many women are choosing not to marry. Being financially independent means that either of these situations will not impact a women’s lifestyle substantially.”

How to better prepare for your retirement

Superguru, an initiative of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, has pulled together a list of tips on how Australian women can better understand and maximise their superannuation.

The first of these is to remove the $450-a-month threshold for the Superannuation Guarantee to boost to your retirement savings.

According to Superguru, there are currently around 250,000 Australians who miss out on around $75 million worth of super due to this threshold, most of which are women.

Secondly, it suggests applying the Superannuation Guarantee to all substantive income replacement payments such as paid parental leave.

“Even just six months of SG applied to the paid parental leave of a 35-year-old woman earning $50,000 could add an extra $10,000 to her final super balance,” the website reads.

Superguru also suggests that the Anti-Discrimination Act should be amended to ensure employers can contribute more to the superannuation accounts of their female employees without being in breach of the Act.

Here are more tips from the ASFA on how to quickly and easily sort your superannuation to help you save for retirement.

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at