Gender pay gap worse in rural areas than Sydney, research reveals

LABOUR DISCRIMINATION: Professor John Hicks and Associate Professor Parikshit Basu from the Charles Sturt University Faculty of Business.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED

LABOUR DISCRIMINATION: Professor John Hicks and Associate Professor Parikshit Basu from the Charles Sturt University Faculty of Business. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

WOMEN in regional areas suffer from higher levels of discrimination in the workforce than those in metropolitan areas, research at Charles Sturt University  (CSU) has exposed.

Comparing Australian Bureau of Statistics income data of men and women from Metropolitan Sydney to regional NSW and metropolitan Melbourne to regional Victoria, CSU Professor John Hicks, Associate Professor Parikshit Basu and University of Western Sydney’s Doctor Girijasankar Mallik found discrimination on three levels.

While it might not come as a surprise to most, the researchers found women, no matter where they lived, were discriminated against in the labour market, based on their incomes, with those in regional NSW and Victoria exposed to higher levels of discrimination than those in Sydney or Melbourne.

Interestingly, women in Victoria were discriminated against more than those in NSW, but women in regional NSW had higher rates of discrimination against those in Sydney compared to regional Victoria and Melbourne women.

Associate Professor Basu, who has studied labour economics for the past 12 years, said the study was one of the first of its kind in Australia, as most studies focused on either regions or gender issues, but rarely had both issues been considered together.

“There is evidence of discrimination in all labour markets, particularly in terms of women who receive a weekly wage as opposed to those on an hourly wage rate. That is, in part, because of Australia’s non-discriminatory minimum hourly wage rate laws,” Associate Professor Basu said.

He said women in regional areas suffered from limited job opportunities and owned less income-earning assets than their male counterparts, and said the majority of people moving to regional areas were men who had dependent spouses.

Orange businesswoman Jan Savage said she was not surprised by the findings, as throughout her career she had experienced discrimination in the workplace.

“Women have to work a lot harder and get more results to have acceptability in their field, even though they might be suitably qualified. It’s a very difficult road for many,” she said.

“Women are able to think faster, think more creatively, think outside the box, and I think men, they don’t realise these skills exist in women sometimes.”

alexandra.king@fairfaxmedia.com.au