Financial gender equality sees biggest boost in two years
The Financy Women’s Index (FWX) has shown the largest growth in the last two years, driven by improving female underemployment and more women studying in higher paying fields.
It grew to 78.1 points in the September quarter, a rise from 76.6 points in the June quarter, reflecting further advancement towards Australian economic equality.
This quarter’s result follows a slight growth of 0.4 points in the previous quarter after two consecutive quarters in decline associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
With more women working part-time, the female underemployment rate improved by 7.4 per cent in the quarter.
There was also a shift among women studying educational fields linked to higher expected career earnings.
Information technology remains the highest paying educational field for women, which has seen female enrolment growth outpace male. However, female enrolments in this field stand at 21,006, which is roughly a third less than the 73,716 for male enrolments.
There is better growth seen in female management and commerce enrolments, which are the third-highest paying educational field.
According to Financy, education choices remain the biggest barrier with years to equality exceeding 100.
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder of Financy, described this quarter’s growth as a positive result despite the backdrop of a slowing economy.
“During the peak of the pandemic, the underlying data captured in the index was volatile and if we compare where we are today to September 2020, the index is less than one point (0.84) higher – a poor result,” she said.
“That said, if we look at economic equality prior to the pandemic in December 2019, the index is nearly five points higher today than it was then.
“This suggests a correction in the index to a more reliable pattern of progress, but the economic environment remains concerning for both female and male employment.”
Shane Oliver, AMP chief economist, said the index demonstrates the progress that still needs to be made to achieve gender financial equality.
“This is particularly in areas like the expected earnings flowing from the education choices women make and in unpaid work. But the good news is that the index has improved significantly this year with strong progress in women’s board representation,” he commented.