• Female ophthalmologists earn an average of $336,000 less than male ophthalmologists (Getty)
The staggering difference between what our highest paid men and women earn is evidence the gender pay gap is alive and well in Australia.
By
Bianca Soldani

5 Dec 2016 - 4:27 PM  UPDATED 5 Dec 2016 - 4:37 PM

Women, on average, earn less than men. In Australia, it’s an average of 16 per cent less, but data recently published by the Australian Taxation Office shows that figure to be significantly higher at the top end of the earning scale.

When you break down our country’s 30 highest paid jobs by gender, a staggering 28 are held by men. All but five of these jobs are in healthcare, a profession dominated by women.

Data from the 2013/4 income year – which is the most recent the ATO currently has on record – shows that the gender pay gap among some medical professionals is as high as 64 per cent.

The average male ophthalmologist earned $553,000 in 2013/4, while their female counterparts took home just $217,000 – a staggering $336,000 less.

When you break down our country’s 30 highest paid jobs by gender, a staggering 28 are held by men. All but five of these jobs are in healthcare, a profession dominated by women.

Similarly, male orthopedic surgeons pocked $439,629 while female orthopedic surgeons were paid an average of $159,479. For radiation oncologists, the dollar amount difference between what the average man and woman earned was $201,000.

It is important to note however, that these figures are averaged between full and part time employment. A spokesperson for the ATO tells SBS that they have simply recorded “the income of individuals which they report to us, against the occupation they report to us” on their income tax return form.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director Libby Lyons tells SBS, “the ATO figures show alarming discrepancies in the pay packets of medical specialists in a number of fields".

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“While I cannot comment on how the ATO calculates their figures, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s data shows that women are three quarters of all part-time workers. When part-time and full-time workers are combined the pay gap increases.”

Despite this, Ms Lyons adds that her agency’s data “shows that the industry category of Medical and Other Health Care Services has a 34 per cent gender pay gap (based on total remuneration for full-time workers), despite having a workforce that is 78 per cent female".

“This is significantly higher than the national pay gap for full-time workers, which is 23 per cent based on total remuneration.”

Specialty roles in the healthcare profession have traditionally been dominated by men, Ms Lyons explains, and the figures suggest that gender bias remains prevalent in the sector.

“Our data shows a consistent pattern in female-dominated industries of men dominating higher-paying, management and senior roles. Our data also shows that pay gaps increase with seniority and access to discretionary pay.”

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley declined to comment when contacted by SBS for this story. The Department of Health was similarly unable to comment as they do not set rates of pay.

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