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Are women more likely to pursue lower paying roles?

A new report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is singing a familiar tune: Women are paid less than men in all levels of management in industries across the board. But why is that? Is it because we women simply go for lower paying roles?

Female managers seem to be getting the raw end of the bargain here. Regardless of position or industry, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has found that women in managerial roles are being paid up to 45 per cent less than men in the same roles.

From retail to finance, the figures demonstrate the gender gap between male and female employees, with the biggest gap seen in administrative and support services roles, which have a gender pay gap of 44.7 per cent.

Director of the WGEA, Helen Conway, says that it could be due to women being drawn to what are seen as lower valued roles.

“The data clearly shows women in management aren’t accessing the same earning opportunities as men. This is partly due to the fact that women gravitate to roles the market typically assesses as being of lower value.”

“For example, we know female [key management personnel] are more likely to be in support roles such as human resources than line roles such as heads of finance.”

So, if Conway is right, why aren’t women drawn to the higher ranked positions? The WGEA director says it comes down to the lack of support and flexibility for women who want to take time out to start a family or because we haven’t yet done away with the gender biases that discourage women to step into the key roles and become breadwinners of the family. And the onus is on businesses and industries to make the change.

“Employers who are committed to creating equal access to opportunities for women and men need to work harder to remove barriers that inhibit women from entering these higher paying roles,” Conway said.

“A lack of quality flexible work, the legacy of workplace cultures built on the male breadwinner model and gender bias are likely to be among the barriers that need to be tackled.”

Are women drawn to lower ranked roles because of gender biases and lack of support? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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