It has always been common knowledge that women tend to consistently receive the lower end of the bargain in the job market. Whether it is employment rates or salary averages, women have always had to contend with receiving less than their male counterparts in the workforce. Consequently, a recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics report comes with a welcome surprise as it lists twenty occupations where women receive higher wages on average than men on a weekly basis.
Interestingly, among the occupations where women seem to be overachieving, many are what are traditionally thought of as male-orientated industries.
Female electricians on average earn an enormous 86 per cent more than men performing electrical work. Work involving paving and surfacing labour, and structural steel and welding trades also saw a significant income advantage for women of 45 per cent and 30 per cent respectively on weekly earnings. Additionally, female motor mechanics earning around $1,340 per week get 27 per cent more than their male counterparts whose weekly earnings average at $1,055. A similar 25 percent difference is observed among truck drivers with female drivers earning $1,724 and men earning $1,375 on average on a weekly basis.
Commenting on the data, James Tinslay, CEO of the National Electrical and Communications Association, said that while the electrical industry was generally male dominated, the women who do enter the profession tend to be overachievers. Reflecting Mr. Tinslay’s views, Greg Hatton, deputy CEO of the Motor Trades Association, said that women often tend to move towards more specialised work, citing examples of women doing part interpreter work or female technicians making the shift to service advisory. He also mentioned that there are areas where they do extra hours to pick up overtime.
Looking at other sectors of the workforce, the medical industry also offers women higher wages in certain occupations.
Female dental hygienists, technicians and therapists at $1,873 earn 45 per cent more than men in similar professions whose average weekly earnings amount to nearly $1,295. Dental practitioners who are women also earn more than men with an approximate 28 per cent difference between the two groups. General medical practitioners and psychologists are also occupations where women seem to be valued more. Women earn 21 and 16 per cent more than men in these sectors respectively.
The Australian Dental Association added a note of caution when asked how it viewed the data stating that it was inconsistent with previous reports which had put male earnings ahead. An ADA spokeswoman mentioned that some reasons for the disparity in female and male earnings could arise from the age group sampled in the survey, as well as the range of experience of those sampled. Additionally, she said there may also be differences in the terms and conditions of employment among those surveyed.
Other occupations where women earned more include: hairdressers, telemarketers, switchboard operators, domestic cleaners, housekeepers, bookkeepers, bus and coach drivers, delivery drivers, clothing trade workers, retail wool buyers, and gallery, library and museum technicians. In these professions, women’s earnings ranged from being 10 per cent higher than men’s in occupations such as telemarketing and operating switchboard to a 138 per cent difference as in the case of domestic cleaners. Most others reported a nominal 20 – 30 percent difference in earnings.
Clare Buttner, a spokeswoman for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, stressed that people should be regarded equally irrespective of the work they choose to do. In expressing the ever present need for more to be done to bridge income disparities, she highlighted the existence of a gender gap that favours men on the whole, even in female dominated industries, as there were only a few jobs where women earned more than men.