The Workplace Gender Equality Agency released information on equal pay day that shows the gender pay gap for female childcare workers in Australia. Even though childcare is internationally considered to be a female-dominated field with 89.3% of the sector being consisted of women, female full-time employees in the preschool sector are paid on average 31.9% less than men in the same industry. To compare, the national gender wage gap in Australia is 15.3% percent.
When the data was released, educators and childcare workers were already preparing for a demonstration to protest against unfair rates. They claim that they are paid 30% less than comparable male-dominated fields, like metal work industry which has similar tiered qualification requirements to early childhood education.
Helen Gibbons, who is the assistant secretary to United Voice, the union for childcare workers, explains the gap with the cultural understanding of the sector. She says “There’s no greater indication of the lack of importance that we attach to things that have traditionally been seen as women’s work than early childhood education, when it was provided inside the home it was undervalued and it continues to be undervalued outside the home as well.”
Unlike at home childcare though, according to Gibbons childcare workers are required to have qualifications that can take as long as four years to receive. Regardless of this, some of them are paid as little as $21 an hour. This is about half the national average wage in Australia.
Due to their low-income, women in the childcare industry like many other women face another dilemma. Gibbons says, “Ironically, so many of them leave at the stage that they want to have children, because they can’t afford the childcare.” She calls federal government to increase funding to childcare, so that childcare providers can have increased wages without it effecting parents.
Source: The Guardian