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Despite Outnumbering Male Teachers, Women In Education Still Experience The Gender Pay Gap

Data shows that women are especially isolated from high-earning positions

Teachers in Australia receive less than uni-educated employees (Photo: Learning Explorer)

In Australia, teachers receive a proportionally lower income when compared to other university-educated employees. Some teachers fear that gender underpins the pay disparity.

High school teacher Rachelle Shelverton said, “I can definitely see a link between the low pay and the higher number of female teachers”. She cited, “societal expectations to see women in caring roles” and how “skills are traditionally valued” as driving factors.

The 2021 Census, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, revealed nationwide the ratio of teachers was 25 per cent male to 75 per cent female. The consistency across states and territories indicates a societal trend, as opposed to an isolated case.

On average, this means for every male working in Education there are three females. Given women dominate the industry, Mrs Shelverton was not surprised by these statistics.

“Perhaps it was an occupation women went into because traditionally, they are viewed in more caring, nurturing and educating positions. It used to be the case that boys went into certain occupations (STEM) and girls went into others,” Mrs Shelverton said.

Women’s representation in STEM has been increasing however these fields can still have gendered parameters. Further data from The 2021 Census, charting Australia's average weekly earnings, revealed jobs in STEM were among the highest paying.

Income is one way to look at how society values different skills. “Management and the business of making money, as the data shows, are seen as more important than educating and encouraging the next generation of learners,” Mrs Shelverton said.

Teachers and nurses receive lower incomes than other university-educated professions, but females in these industries earn even less when compared to male counterparts.

On average, females working in Education earn $1,802.50 per week, while males earn $2,023.20. The 11 per cent gender pay gap becomes more disproportionate when considering the ratio of males to females in the sector.

Managers report the highest hourly earnings of any profession. Statistics from The Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows women are isolated from high-earning positions, with only 32.5 per cent holding key managerial roles and an even fewer 19.3 per cent being CEO.

The higher ratio of male principals explains the gender’s increased earnings, despite there being more women in the field. However, this does not explain why there aren't more females holding these positions of power.

Mrs Shelverton’s professional experience reflects how these statistics play out in real life. “I've been teaching for nearly 30 years and in that time, I’ve only had one female principal and four male principals,” she said.


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