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Women in business have long been in the minority when it comes to both presence and pay.

In 2006, The Economist urged businesses to "forget China, India and the internet – economic growth is driven by women".

Yet in a time when economic growth is more elusive than ever, women still earn only 84 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart.

But if women are the way of the future, then why are they so undervalued in the Australian workforce?

According to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA), gender pay inequity is no longer simply a rights issues.

As EOWA identifies in its report Agender In The Boardroom it is instead a business imperative "and if these issues are not actively managed by business leaders the chronic waste of female talent will continue to slow business down.”

Top earners

According to a report launched by the Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek, women in business hold just seven per cent of the Top Earner positions; a female CEO earns two-thirds of the salary earned by her male counterpart; female chief financial officers and chief operating officers earn half the wage of their male equivalents, and in human resource positions, where women are more common, the pay gap is still 43 per cent.

The same report indicates there is no industry in which women are more likely to be top earners than men.

"There is a solid body of evidence that gender equality is good for the economy as a whole," says Plibersek. "Women's economic participation has been fundamental to recent economic growth."

Despite record education levels and rising numbers of women entering the labour market, the same research shows that employers are failing to provide workplaces that enable women to fully participate and fuel the growth in the Australian economy.

The latest figures from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show a pay gap of 34.9 per cent between men and women’s average weekly earnings; research by Graduate Careers Australia indicates male graduates not only earn a higher starting salary, but their salaries increase at a greater rate than women, and the findings by EOWA confirms that pay inequity exists at all levels of the workplace.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Not surprisingly, there are women in the business community who stand out, who create success for themselves.

“Their business methods can be very different and unique, even womanly – as a wonderful book produced by the federal government called Women Entrepreneurs: 18 Inspiring Tales of Small Business Success written by business entrepreneur, Maureen Jordan, shows – there is a characteristic we males have to be wary of in these business rivals,” says leading business commentator Peter Switzer.

Jordan has developed a project, celebrating women in business – Ms Entrepreneur.

And in the Women in Business section of, Jordan and her team share inspirational stories from women living their dreams, and fortifying their stories with articles on leadership, innovation, money, management and much more.

 “We will build a skyscraper full of much-needed female role models to encourage women to develop their powerful female traits – to be confident and powerful leaders, proud of who they are and what they have to contribute to business,” says Jordan.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Published on: Saturday, February 27, 2010

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