Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder of The Financy Women’s Index

The estimated timeline for economic equality between men and women has been stretched out another to 36 years in the first four months of the pandemic according to the latest Financy Women’s index, which noted widening gender gaps in both full-time employment numbers and salaries.

An increase in the full time employment gender gap of 0.8 per cent since Covid-19 erupted in March is the main contributor to the lengthened time-frame to gender equity, as well as a slight increase in the gender pay gap from 13.9 per cent at the start of the year to 14 per cent at the end of May.

Financial and insurance services, health and professional, as well as scientific and technical services still have the worst gender pay differences of any sectors with gaps “around 22 per cent”, the index states.

The volume of cuts to full-time female job in 2020 has reversed two years of female employment growth and has derailed a multi-decade trend which saw female workforce participation steadily expand, says Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder of The Financy Women’s Index.

The sectors that widened the gender pay gap the most since the pandemic have been mining, professional, scientific and technical services and accommodation and food services.

The Financy Index is a quarterly scorecard on the financial progress of women and has been running since 2012. Economic modelling and analysis is provided by Deloitte Access Economics and the final index is reviewed by a panel of experts and the Australian Bureau of Stastics.

Even if we return to the path of improvement seen before the pandemic, we remain a full generation away from achieving equality,” commented Nicki Hutley, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics;

Marginally bright side

There is a silver lining to this quarter’s results, says Harthe-Hazelman, as more women are finding their way onto boards at the country’s top institutions.

“The one area where positive progress has occurred is in the number of women in ASX 200 board positions, which increased to 31.3 per cent in the June period, up from 30.7 per cent in March, according to data company,” she said.

The main financy women’s index itself actually rose 2.4 points in the quarter, but only because male underemployment conditions have deteriorated at a faster rate during the pandemic.

Overall, Harthe-Hazelman admitted, the result is a poor one for the drive to economic equality for women.

Unfortunately, the June quarter’s Financy Women’s Index isn’t one to celebrate because, while there was some good news in terms of the number of women on ASX 200 boards, overall we have seen female progress get dragged down in paid work, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman said.