ACT Directorates with largest gender pay gap revealed

Dominic Giannini 16 April 2021 13
Exterior of ACT Government building

The gender pay gap across the ACT Public Service sits below one per cent. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The gender pay gap in the ACT has been steadily decreasing over the last five years, but the government and public sector union have said there is still more to be done to reach equality.

The average discrepancy in the ACT public service is now below one per cent, down from 3.6 per cent in 2016.

The pay gap at the executive level of the ACTPS is even less, at 0.6 per cent, and more than 50 per cent of executive positions are held by women.

However, recent data from ACT Estimates questions on notice shows there are still departments where large discrepancies exist.

Major Projects Canberra has the largest gender pay discrepancy for an ACT Directorate, with female employees earning an average of $28,000 – or 19 per cent – less than their male colleagues.

The average pay for women in the Directorate is $120,320 compared to $148,293 for men, and women make up just over 40 per cent of the Directorate’s workforce.

Conversely, in the much larger Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate (TCCS), women are paid almost $10,000 more on average despite making up only a quarter of the Directorate’s workforce.

This equates to $1.13 for every $1 their male colleagues make.

Across the ACT, the pay difference between men and women is 8 per cent, and jumps to 14 per cent across Australia, according to the most recent State of the Service report released in December 2020.

Community and Public Sector Union Regional Secretary Maddy Northam said while the ACT Government outperforms the Commonwealth, there was still work to be done to ensure women are given the same opportunities for training and promotion as men across all departments.

There is also an urgent need for wage growth, Ms Northam said.

“Bargaining in the ACT Government kicked off this week [and] the Australian public service isn’t coming to the table with decent pay offers so we need the ACT Government to step up and help Canberra recover,” she said.

“That is why we are asking the ACT Government to go above and beyond what they offered last time and offer a 3.5 per cent per annum pay deal.”

Table showing gender pay gap in ACT Public Service

The gender pay gap within the ACT Public Service, broken down by Directorate. Image: Supplied.

Minister for Women Yvette Berry said Canberrans have a lot to be proud of, but gender inequality still exists in the ACT.

“Despite significant improvements to the status of women, gender inequality persists,” she said.

Ms Berry said the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-2026 aims to remove barriers for women and girls to reach their potential and achieve gender equity.

“The Second Action Plan, Equity Together, under the ACT Women’s Plan, is progressing on track with one action complete and 27 actions underway one year on since its launch in March 2020,” she said.

“During the past 12 months, the government, together with the community, has shown an ongoing commitment to the delivery of all 29 actions under this plan to improve gender equity.”


READ ALSO: Public service changes cloud ACT economic success story


The highest representation of female employees is at the ACT Insurance Authority (86 per cent), which sits within the Chief Minister’s Directorate, followed by the Education Directorate (75 per cent), Community Services Directorate (74 per cent) and ACT Health and Canberra Health Services, which both have 65 per cent.

Following TCCS, the Directorates with the lowest female representation are Major Projects Canberra (41 per cent) and Justice and Community Safety (48 per cent).

The workforce of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate and Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate both have just above 50 per cent female staff.

The entire ACTPS comprises almost 25,000 staff – 65 per cent being women – and has an average salary of just above $80,000.

ACT Public Service employment figures

A breakdown of the number of people employed within the ACT Public Service. Image: Supplied.


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13 Responses to ACT Directorates with largest gender pay gap revealed
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croc croc 9:46 am 19 Apr 21

When this debate was initiated, the catch cry was “Equal pay for equal work”. The debate was most certainly justified.
My observation is that this has been achieved quite some time ago, however persons and groups with self interest continue to claim the problem exists, however they conveniently ignore the “equal work” element.
There are so many other issues that deserve our attention, it’s merely a waste of our time to continue prosecuting this argument.

dazzer dazzer 7:01 am 19 Apr 21

Don’t let the facts spoil a good storey. It is illegal to pay someone a different salary for doing the same work based on gender. The reason there is a so-called gender pay gap is due to a lot of women preferring to work part-time for family reasons, this is called having ‘workplace flexibility.
For those Directorates where women are being paid more than men, what is the plan to address this? Or doesn’t that matter? More left-wing hypocrisy and double standards.
Who actually cares if there are more men than women in some Directorates, and vice versa. Maybe certain Directorates interest men more than women and other Directorates interest women more than men. Can we stop looking at everything through the eyes of identity politics, it is so divisive.

chewy14 chewy14 11:52 am 18 Apr 21

Honestly, if you ever needed evidence of the ridiculously illogical way activists still present this issue, this article is it.

Even in areas where women are being paid more than men and dominate the workforce, somehow they are still victims and “further work needs to be done”.

How anyone could put together that table and with a straight face claim that women are somehow being discriminated against in the ACT PS is beyond me.

Acco Motors Acco Motors 9:45 pm 17 Apr 21

The male wage gap exists.

Recent data from ACT Estimates shows that male employees are still significantly underpaid and underrepresented when compared to their female counterparts.

Within the Community Services and Education directorates, male representation is barely 25%, while their female counterparts are paid $1.07 and $1.03 per $1 respectively, and the average yearly salary gap is between $3,000-$6,000 in favour of women.

The largest wage gap exists within the TCCS Transport portfolio, where male staff are paid almost $10,000 less than their female coworkers, despite representing an almost 76% majority.

Conversely, Major Projects Canberra shows men
are being paid on average $28,000 more than their female counterparts while making up nearly 60% of the payroll.

Of the 10 directorates for which we gained data, 7 showed a female majority, with the Insurance directorate showing as much as 85.7% female dominance. Half those directorates showed a positive gender pay gap in favour of women.

Despite the ongoing gender pay gap, there continues to be in place an ACT Women’s Plan, which only serves to further undermine the already disadvantaged male workforce. The plan seeks to undermine remaining male gender equality in the various directorates and to remove barriers preventing women from widening the gap.

The entire ACTPS comprises almost 25,000 staff, of which only 35% are men.

See, statistics can be used to prove anything.

russianafroman russianafroman 9:11 pm 17 Apr 21

Wasn’t the gender pay gap disproven by a multiple studies including a very comprehensive Harvard study?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:15 pm 17 Apr 21

“Bargaining in the ACT Government kicked off this week [and] the Australian public service isn’t coming to the table with decent pay offers so we need the ACT Government to step up and help Canberra recover,” she said.

“That is why we are asking the ACT Government to go above and beyond what they offered last time and offer a 3.5 per cent per annum pay deal.”

Paid for by the same “Magic Pudding” economics that ACT Labor accused the ACT Liberals of during last year’s election, when questions about “where’s the money coming from” suddenly became an issue in a town which generally seems untroubled by such matters…..?

bd84 bd84 4:28 pm 17 Apr 21

A great example of how the ‘gender pay gap’ does not exist. The pay scales across the ACT government are the same no matter whether you’re male or female. Performing simplistic average of salaries of male and females does not provide a valid result.

They will have to use the poor statistics as a basis to address the inequality of male salaries in TCCS soon if the ‘logic’ is used consistently.

jwinston jwinston 9:19 am 17 Apr 21

I’m a little sceptical.

In Australia it is illegal to pay someone less than somebody else based on gender. I am yet to meet any woman who has been paid less than a man for doing the same job.

    steveu steveu 11:14 am 17 Apr 21

    Yes you are right, in every jurisdiction this is the case. The issue is the number of hours women choose to work, and take time off to spend with kids will always impact take Home wages and career progression. Despite the eagerness to expose a national conspiracy here, i dont think there is one to find.
    Childcare (multi billion dollar industry subsidized federally) and the father looking after the children are always an option for ensuring that women work the hours to ensure their wages and career are recognised apportionately.
    No one would dare to suggest offering incentives for fathers to look after the kids however…

    russianafroman russianafroman 9:13 pm 17 Apr 21

    steveu Exactly. Unfortunately these falsehoods exist in order to create these fake divisions among society and to get people to hate each other. I’m glad to see so many people realise this and call it out.

    DJA DJA 3:29 pm 17 Apr 21

    In my experience I have also yet to meet any pay structure that disadvantages based on gender.

    Especially when *half* of the departments listed in this post have a larger average female salary compared to the average male salary. So if the narrative is that ‘it is not OK to pay women less than men’ are they also saying ‘it is OK to pay men less than women’?

    russianafroman russianafroman 9:14 pm 17 Apr 21

    DJA Lol. I guess the article is supposing that women are oppressing men? I think it’s self-evident here that the “gender pay gap” is based on literally nothing and has been proven multiple times in multiple studies as such.

    russianafroman russianafroman 9:15 pm 17 Apr 21

    Meant to say “disproven” here.

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