Employment gender gaps have continued to close in the strong post-pandemic labour market, driven by increased women’s workforce participation. Most gender gap indicators are currently at or near their lowest recorded levels.

Headline gender pay gap

The headline gender pay gap was 13.0% in May 2023. This indicator offers an ‘apples to apples’ comparison of male and female employees, as it excludes gender differences in hours worked and overtime/bonuses. The headline gender pay gap is currently the lowest on record, down from 17.4% a decade ago.

Total earnings

The gender gap for total earnings – i.e. take home pay – was 28.7% in May 2023. This indicator offers a more real world comparison of male and female employees, as it includes gender differences in hour worked and overtime/bonuses. The total earnings gap is currently the lowest on record, and has been steadily declining for the last decade.

Hours worked

The gender gap in hours worked has fallen to 18.3% in May 2023. This indicator measures how patterns of full-, part- and over-time work lead to gender differences in total hours worked. The hours worked gap is the lowest on record, and its rate of closure has accelerated since the pandemic with increased women’s labour force participation.


The gender gap for wages – i.e. average hourly rates of pay – was 12.7% in May 2023. This gap reflects occupational differences, such as women being employed in lower-wage occupations, industries and/or less-senior roles. Except for a period of volatility during the pandemic, the gender wages gap has been relatively stable – oscillating between 11 and 13% – for the last decade.

Pay gaps by industries

The industries with the lowest gender pay gaps are public administration (5.2%), education (9.0%), utilities (9.4%) and accommodation & food (9.6%). The gap is largest in professional, scientific & technical services (22.7%), health care & social assistance (21.0%), financial services (19.2%) and administrative services (18.0%).

Since the pandemic, the strongest improvements in the gender pay gap have occurred in two traditionally male-dominated industries: construction (down by 4.8% since 2019) and transport (down by 4.5%).


Female unemployment was 3.7% in September 2023, compared to 3.4% for males. However, female unemployment has tended to be lower than male in the recent labour market cycle, reflecting strong employment growth in several female-dominated industries.


Female under-employment was 7.2% in September 2023, compared to 5.6% for males. The gender gap in underemployment has closed significantly in the tight post-pandemic labour market, falling from around a 4.0% gap prior to the pandemic to around 2.5% since the current cycle.

Labour market participation

Female labour market participation was 62.7% in September 2023, a record high level. Women’s participation has been steadily increasing for decades, but the increase accelerated in the tight post-pandemic labour market. The current gender participation gap of 8.3% is the lowest on record.

Full-time employment

The share of female employees in full-time employment was 57.1% in September 2023, down slightly from a peak of 57.8% in June. The rate grew by approximately 3% during the current labour market cycle. With the rate of male full-time employment declining very slightly, the gender gap for full-time employment has narrowed to 23.7%.


The data in this factsheet are derived from various ABS labour surveys. Data is collected on a monthly, quarterly or biannual basis, and is typically released two or three months following the reference period. Ai Group Research & Economics will update this factsheet as new data is released. Refer to notes in the charts for links to the source data.

Ai Group Research & Economics Team

Website: Research and Economics Resource Centre

Email: economics@aigroup.com.au

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