The Downs jobs where it doesn't pay to be a woman

SOUTHERN Downs women working as tradies, community support staff and machinery operators are likely to be working alongside men being paid tens of thousands more than them.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the 2015-16 median wage for female machinery operators and drivers in the Darling Downs and Maranoa, including Warwick, was $28,000 less than for their male colleagues.

In the lead-up to Equal Pay Day on Friday, the federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency said the pay gap was at its lowest point in two decades.

But an independent report has found a small decrease in the pay gap over the past 20 years is not because of women's pay increasing but men's wages dropping after the mining boom.

The average pay for women working in community and personal services on the Downs was $32,597, about $25,000 less than men in the same industry.

Female tradies and technicians were paid about $24,000 less than their male counterparts.

Across all sectors the median wage gap between men and women was $18,346 - down from a peak of $19,822 in 2013-14.

Meanwhile, a new report has found a small decrease in the pay gap over the past 20 years is not due to women's pay increasing but due to men's wages dropping following the mining boom.

A recent report from Economic Security 4 Women found the mining boom's end had reduced the wage gap, but because men's wages had fallen - not because women's wages had grown.

"In other words, the graph has narrowed marginally because of a relative cyclical decline in wages in male-dominated industries rather than a material improvement in female wage conditions," report author Steven Koukoulas said.

"The evidence for Australia confirms that women are persistently and overwhelmingly less economically secure than men.

"In terms of pay, women still lag men in full-time equivalent wage levels by a significant amount. There has been little net change in the gender pay gap over the past 20 years."

WGEA director Libby Lyons said the pay gap was the lowest it had been in 20 years, but more work needed to be done.

"The gender pay gap is a symptom of a broader issue. It reflects the fact that women's work is traditionally undervalued and women are often paid less than men. Average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia. Women are under-represented in senior executive and management roles and female-dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male-dominated ones," she said.

"We need to continue to break down the barriers that contribute to the gender pay gap."

Regional community development expert Jim Cavaye said women were more likely work part-time or casually, often after having children.

The University of Southern Queensland regional development professor said a cultural shift was needed to encourage more men to take extended parental leave and government programs to encourage more women to work in traditionally male industries. -NewsRegional



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