Economic & Employment Conditions
The economic conditions women live under are a powerful determinant of how women will age and the consequences for their health and quality of life in later age. Globally, older women are more likely to be poorer than older men. This is no different in Australia, with disparities between wages for women and men. Aside from general industry inequities, women’s economic and employment conditions are also affected by factors of maternity, being in a carer role, having a disability, being a migrant and having English as a second language, or being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman.
Other information about women's economic and employment conditions includes:
- Australian women account for 45% of the paid workforce, but earn an average of 10% less than men.
- In the upper echelons of earners, women’s median pay is barely 58% of the overall median pay for men.
- In Victoria, women also earn less than their male counterparts: women have a weekly median income of $355, while men’s is $605.
- Women make up the majority of part-time workers, and part-time work is the most common form of employment for Australian mothers.
- Women who raise children are, over a lifetime, economically worse off than women who don’t have children, and the more children a woman has, the more economically disadvantaged she is.
- Women tend to retire earlier than men and, when they do, they usually rely on their partner’s income (47%) or a government pension or allowance (33%).
- Only 41% of retired Australian women over 45 years of age contributed to superannuation schemes while they were working, compared to 67% of retired men. In addition, only 22% of these women contributed for over 20 years compared to 51% of men.
- Women are the primary carers of elderly, disabled and mentally-ill members of the family. This responsibility greatly hinders a woman’s ability to fully participate in paid work. It is also found that carers not only suffer financially, but also emotionally, physically and socially.
- Women in Victoria are expected to live to just over 84 years of age, while Victorian men may expect to live to just under 80 years. A lifetime of lower earnings compounded with lower superannuation, a higher dependence on partners for financial security and increased longevity can mean women often find it difficult to have enough money to live on in later years,,.
Women with disabilities
- Although gender breakdowns are difficult to obtain, it is known that the participation rate for people with disabilities is 53%, compared with 81% for people without a disability.
- The median gross personal income is also lower for people with a disability, aged 15-64 years, being $255 per week, compared with $501 for those without a disability.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
- When age is standardised, migrant women have a lower participation rate in the workforce (52%) than Australian-born women (60%). This may in part be due to lower levels of English proficiency and limited labour market experience prior to migration.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
 World Health Organization (2000) Women, ageing and health: Fact Sheet No 252. World Health Organization. Viewed 13 March 2008, https://apps.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact252.html
 Breusch, T. & E. Gray (2003) A re-estimation of mothers’ foregone earnings using Negotiation the Life Course (NLC) data. Negotiating the Life Course Discussion Paper Series DP-017, Canberra, Centre for Social Research ANU.
 Crowther, E (2004). MI support, Mental Illness Fellowship. Autumn/Early Winter
 Lee, C. (2001). Family care giving: A gender-based analysis of women’s experience. In Payne, S. & Hill, E. (Eds). Chronic and terminal illnesses: new perspectives on caring and carers. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
 Mackay, H. (2007) Advance Australia…Where? Hachette Livre, Sydney.