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Gender pay gap proves puzzling

Maddison Smee doesn't see any reason women should be paid less than men. Photo Jorge Branco / Caboolture News
Maddison Smee doesn't see any reason women should be paid less than men. Photo Jorge Branco / Caboolture News Jorge Branco

ST COLUMBAN'S College captain Madison Smee is disappointed by news she could be earning up to $10,000 less than her male counterparts as a university graduate, depending on her career path.

New data from Graduate Careers Australia shows male graduates in dentistry earn on average $14,400 more than females, with architecture and building ($9000), optometry ($7000) and law ($4300) not far behind.

Madison is only 16 and just heading into her final year of school but said the news turned her off considering certain careers.

"It makes you not really as excited to go into the workforce, knowing that you're a female and you're not going to be receiving the same salary," she said.

The Business and Professional Women Caboolture member is looking at a career in the defence force with a possible move into business later on. She said she did not understand why women were still paid less than men.

"I just think that there's no reason for it," she said.

There was some positive news to come out of the findings.

The data showed female graduates in earth sciences could hope to earn $6500 more than males while pharmacy ($3700) and computer sciences ($3000) also rewarded women more generously.

On top of her role as BPW Caboolture president, Kimberley James is an executive officer with Economic Security 4 Women, a national organisation fighting for pay equality.

She said the scary thing was not that the figures were unacceptable but that they were hard to explain.

"I would've ordinarily said it's about women not getting promoted or going for promotions," she said. "(But) this is graduates going into a graduate level job.

"When we don't understand why the disparity is there we then find it very difficult to create a solution for it."

Jessica Behan is working part-time at a law firm in Brisbane while she finishes her degree. She said she had no complaints with her salary and was on the same rate as male colleagues, but admitted this might have been due to being a casual.

Topics:  graduate careers australia, pay gap


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