Australia

Gender pay gap still biting for executives

Women in top executive roles remain more than 15 per cent worse off than their male counterparts. (AAP)

The gender pay gap for women in top executive roles remains more than 15 per cent, new research released on International Women's Day shows.

Women executives at Australia's biggest 500 companies are being paid about 20 per cent less than their male counterparts.

New research released ahead of International Women's Day made the finding after analysing pay packets of more than 3000 women working in ASX500 firms over a five-year period.

University of South Australia professor Carol Kulik said there was a gap in both base salary and incentives.

"Variables such as executive tenure, firm financial performance, and industry, account for some of that gap, but even after controlling for those factors, the gender gap for executives is still more than 15 per cent," she said.

Female executive numbers have risen to 23 per cent among Australia's biggest 200 firms, although about 20 of those companies have no women at that level.

There has been a healthy leap in women on the boards of ASX200 companies over the past decade, with the proportion sitting at 30 per cent, up from eight per cent a decade ago.

Prof Kulik said on average men still took home $25,717 a year more than women.

"Our data shows that even women at the top of organisational hierarchies, with all the experience and qualifications that they have, still experience a pay gap," she said.

"And given the higher wages of senior executives, the female executives in our dataset were about $166,000 out of pocket each year compared to their male counterparts."

The research found the gender pay gap for executives was much larger in ASX companies with no women on their boards.

"In firms with no female directors, the salary gap was 40 per cent," Prof Kulik said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Greg Hunt said ministerial board appointments in his portfolio were now more than 50 per cent female for the first time after announcing Dorothy Keefe as Cancer Australia's new chief executive.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten outlined a range of Labor policies to help women, including moves to close the gender pay gap to mark International Women's Day.

"I have had enough of women being paid less and it being kept a closely guarded secret," he said.

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