Young women left behind in financial equality progress

Financy Financy Women’s Index Bianca Hartge-Hazelman Shane Oliver AMP Capital Women in Business

16 November 2021
| By Oksana Patron |
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Although Financy Women’s Index (FWX) rose 2% in the September quarter to 73.6 points helped by a closing of the gender gaps in the underemployment rate, it’s not genuine progress for women as male outcomes deteriorated faster than female.

The FWX was up 6% in the two years to September 2021 despite being down 0.1% year-on-year and it would take 29.5 years for women to achieve in the paid workforce and 101 years in unpaid work, the study said.

Although the latest result was helped by a closing of key gender gaps in women on boards, employment, and the underemployment rate, experts warned that it was a cautionary tale of women’s economic progress.

“The rise in this quarter’s results were predominantly driven by an improvement in the underemployment sub-index, up 10% quarter-on-quarter however female underemployment weakened in the September quarter, rising to 10.2% in September (compared to 9.2% in June),” said Rhiannon Yetsenga, Economist Deloitte Access Economics.

Additionally, Detailed Labour Force data showed that of the 19 key industries, female employment declined in only five sectors, but male employment fell across all of them, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“Women's progress must come from genuine improvements in equality against a backdrop of greater well-being for both men and women,” said Nicki Hutley, independent social impact economist.

“Policy makers must look to restore prosperity for all, while embedding policies that genuinely address gender equity.”

According to Financy Founder Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, the biggest risk moving forward was that women, particularly those aged under 25 years, emerged from the pandemic in a far worst financial position than when it began.

“As it stands, there are increased structural barriers that prevent many women from participating in paid work to their desired capacity and these affect the immediacy at which a person can take advantage of opportunities,” she said.

Shane Oliver, chief economist AMP Capital stressed two things have become clear from the pandemic.

“First, pandemic or not we still have a long way to go to reach financial equality for women,” he said.

“And second the revolution in flexible working made possible by technology but finally unleashed by the pandemic has provided a pathway forward to more rapidly address the financial gender gap.

“The key is for governments to help facilitate it and for employers and women to embrace it.”

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