SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Equal pay for men and women remains a pipe dream in Australia with a report on Monday showing the pay gap between the sexes is wider now than 30 years ago.
The report by KPMG, commissioned by the non-profit group Diversity Council Australia, found Australian women earn nearly 18 percent less than their male counterparts.
The gap has widened in the past three decades as in 1977 women were earning on average 88 percent of the salaries of their male counterparts compared to 82 percent in 2010.
"It is a surprising result when you consider equal pay actually became a reality in Australia in 1972," acting research director of Diversity Council Australia, Lisa Annese, told Reuters.
Over the past year the average pay gap between men and women workers grew by A$7.90 ($7.09) per week to $239.30 a week from A$231.40.
This means that women would have to work three days longer in 2010 compared to 2009 to reach an equal pay packet.
The report also found women made up only 7 percent of executives in companies listed on the Australia stock exchange's ASX 200 index even though women account for 42 percent of the total workforce and make up the majority, or 70 percent, of Australia's part-time workforce.
Annese said Australia had, of course, seen substantial improvements in the labor market conditions for women in the past century but the recent lack of progress was disappointing.
"We haven't gone backwards, we just haven't moved forwards," said Annese.
Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith