Let’s face facts: Women aren’t equal

Living in a country like Australia we can often forget that, in 2017, women still don't enjoy full equality to our male counterparts.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has offered some depressing and shocking statistics on International Women’s Day[1] that prove women earn less than men during every stage of their lives.

  • Young girls receive 11% less pocket money than boys.
  • Less than 1 in 20 girls consider a career in science, technology, engineering or maths, compared to 1 in 5 boys.
  • Women in 2016 are earning less, on average, than they were 20 years ago.
  • Women earn $248.20 less than men each week.
  • The majority (70%) of part time work is undertaken by women.
  • In recent years 60% of women are graduates, yet female post-graduates earn 82% of the salary of a male post-graduate.
  • Only 24% of Australian board directors and 17% of chief executives are women.
  • Women earn up to 40 % less than men during their 'child bearing years' (25-44), regardless of whether or not they have children.
  • Mothers who return to work after maternity leave suffer a wage penalty of 7% in their first year and a further penalty of 12% the following year.
  • The average superannuation balance for women at retirement is $138,150 for women, compared with $292,500 for men.
  • Almost two-thirds (60%) of women aged between 65 and 69 have no superannuation at all.
  • It is estimated that almost 39% of single women will retire in poverty.


The SDA has fought for, and achieved, many things including:

  • Fighting for Equal Pay for women since 1973.
  • Fighting for Equal Opportunity for women since 1973, including fighting for legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 (Cth) now superseded by the Workplace Gender Equality Act (Cth) making discrimination based on gender and other gender based attributes in workplaces, unlawful.
  • Unpaid maternity leave since 1973, which was gained in 1979. Before this women had to resign from their job if they wanted to take leave to care for their child. The SDA has fought for this for casual workers who only became eligible in 2001.
  • Fighting for paid maternity leave since 1978. This was negotiated by the SDA in some Enterprise Agreements pre-2011, but was not legislated until 2011.
  • The SDA fought for superannuation whilst on parental leave.
  • Fighting for Adoption leave since 1985.
  • Superannuation Contributions - The SDA bargained for these in Awards and Agreements and these were introduced in 1988 i.e. 5 years before the compulsory federal government Superannuation Guarantee Scheme was introduced in 1993.


The SDA has campaigned and improved workplace rights regarding:

  • Pregnancy and safe work
  • Sanitary disposal bins
  • Access to safe transport provisions
  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Family considerations in rosters
  • Carer’s Leave
  • Domestic Violence Leave
  • Parental leave for up to two years
  • Pre-natal leave
  • Part time work after parental leave
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Lifting heavy weights/manual handling
  • Heat and cold work
  • OHS training
  • Anti-fatigue matting


Tell us your story

The SDA continues to fight for gender equality. We do this through negotiating Enterprise Agreements and by making submissions as part of the ‘Modern Awards Review’ process as well as policy submissions to governments of the day and their departments regarding issues affecting our membership.

However real stories have the greatest impact in driving change. That’s why we encourage you to tell us about any issues, discrimination or ill treatment you have faced due to your gender. These stories help us in writing our submissions so that decision makers are fully informed as to the true nature of workplaces.

The SDA’s work will not be done until we have true gender equality in Australia.

If you have any questions or stories for us, please contact us on 02 4961 4694 or via email at secretary@sdan.org.au


[1] www.actu.org.au/media/886499/the-gender-pay-gap-over-the-life-cycle-h2.pdf

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