Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Women's Economy

We all know that the lives of women have changed significantly over the last few decades. Overall we are working more than ever, having children later, and achieving greater levels of financial independence than ever before.

The life of a woman in her twenties or thirties today looks very different to her mothers, and certainly her grandmothers.

Women now make up nearly half of the Australian workforce (45.9%) and are the primary breadwinner in almost a quarter of householders.

More women than men are now attaining a bachelor’s degree and more women than men own their own homes (61% of women compared to 58% of men).

The change in the lives and role of women has clearly been profound, with significant implications for not just women, but business and the economy.

A study by Goldman Sachs, Australia’s Hidden Resource: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation, found that the rise in the female employment over the last few decades has boosted economic activity by 22%.

And yet some things really haven’t changed for women.

On average women earn 17.5% less than men – a gap that has trended gradually upward over the last 10 years.

Women continue to perform the majority of unpaid work, with an OECD study recently finding that Australia women do on average 311 minutes per day of unpaid work compared to 172 minutes for men.

Amongst this mixed picture of women’s statistics, it is clear is that women have experienced significant and positive changes in many aspects of life. 

But as long as we continue to work for less, perform the majority of unpaid work, and juggle the many competing pressures in our lives there is an ongoing need for discussion and change.

True equality is still beyond the reach of many women. Ensuring all women share in the benefits of greater opportunities for work, education, and financial independence, is a challenge for all of us.

SwitchedOn Women is a chance to expand the discussion we have been having for years about equality, to include many more women and men.

It is also an opportunity to find new ways to address the persistent challenges we face, like improving the financial security of women, helping women manage their family budgets, while also acknowledging the economic force that women are and will increasingly be in the future.

Click on the image below for a look at the full SwitchedOn Women's infograph - it has some revelatory and very interesting statistics. 

By: Amanda Robbins, Adviser to SwitchedOn Women and Director of Equity Economics
First published: 16th July 2014

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