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There's a reason Australia's gender pay gap is so persistent

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16.07.2019

We don’t talk about it very much but there’s something odd about Australia’s workforce: most employees are in an industry dominated by one sex.

Even though the share of female workers has surged over the past two decades, the tendency for men and women to cluster in different occupations and industries has remained surprisingly entrenched.

In Australia's health care and social assistance sector, 79 per cent of employees were women in 2018, up from 77.2 per cent in 1998.Credit:Peter Braig

In some of our most important employment sectors the gender balance has become even more lopsided.

In the healthcare and social assistance sector, 79 per cent of employees last year were women, about 2 percentage points more than in 1998. The female share of education and training workers climbed 7 percentage points to 72.2 per cent in the same period.

While the gender balance has improved a little in some male-dominated industries, including mining and manufacturing, the hyper-masculine construction industry has gone the other way. In 1998 men accounted for 86.2 per cent of construction workers but that reached to 88 per cent last year, data published by the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows.

Around six in 10 Australian employees work in an industry dominated by one sex. Economists call this the “gender segregation” of the jobs market, and according to a recent Senate inquiry report, we have “a highly gender segregated........

© The Age