About Women

Statistics on Women

The Australian Government Office for Women (OfW) is a policy advisory unit and a division of the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in Australia. All of their work is founded on the goal of mainstreaming women’s issues this means working to ensure that a focus on women’s experiences, issues or perspectives becomes everyone’s business.

Their recent publication Women in Australia 07 report measures women’s progress in education and training, labour force participation, economic resources and safety.  The following is a list of highlights from their report:

Population Characteristics

  • As at June 2006, women comprised 50.2% of the population.
  • Life expectancy at birth has increased over the last 100 years for men and women, but on average, women live for longer than men however, the gap between male and female longevity is decreasing.
  • On average, Australian women are older than men and the proportion of the female population aged 65 and over is higher than that of males.
  • Net overseas migration adds more men than women each year to the population, but it has little effect on the sex ratio or ageing of the population.
  • Australia’s fertility rate has been below the replacement level (2.1 babies per woman) since the late 1970s. The total fertility rate currently stands at 1.81.
  • The fertility rate has gradually increased since 2001.
  • Childbearing is increasingly being delayed.
  • Continued low fertility and delayed childbearing may be related to increases in the age at which people marry and a decline in marriage rates.

Family and Living Arrangements

  • The proportion of couples with children is decreasing and couples without children, lone parents, and lone person households are increasing.
  • Marriage rates are decreasing and divorce rates are increasing, although both rates show signs of stabilising since 2001.
  • Men and women are marrying at increasingly older ages.
  • The number of de facto relationships as a precursor or alternative to marriage is increasing.
  • Women continue to do the majority of housework and child care.
  • More women than men care for the elderly and people with a disability.
  • After age 65 years a higher proportion of men than women care for their spouses.
  • Women, more than men, use a variety of arrangements to manage work and family responsibilities. These include part-time work, flexible working arrangements, formal and informal child care and paid and unpaid leave.

Health and Mortality

  • The majority of women report being healthy.
  • More women are now surviving breast and cervical cancer than 10 years ago, largely due to improved treatments and early detection through screening.
  • Nearly 4 in 5 women suffer from at least one long term ill-health condition.
  • The prevalence of injuries, mental and behavioural problems, cancer, diabetes and arthritis is increasing among women.
  • Anxiety and mood disorders are the most common forms of mental and behavioural problems experienced by women.
  • Women use medication for mental well-being more than men do.
  • Australian women do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, nearly half are overweight or obese and about one-third do not exercise.
  • The consumption of alcohol at levels that pose a health risk and excess weight are on the rise among women.
  • Being overweight or obese, a lack of exercise and daily tobacco use are associated with poorer health.
  • Girls are becoming sexually active at earlier ages.

Work and Economic Resources

  • Women’s labour force participation has increased over the last 10 years to 57.8% in December 2006. During this time, over 1 million new jobs have been created for women.
  • Women’s part-time and full-time work has increased substantially over the last 10 years. Increases in part-time and full-time work for women were evident across most industries.
  • Among full-time employees, on average, men work longer hours than women do. For part-time work, gender differences in hours worked are dependent upon the industry and occupation in which the employee works.
  • In June 2004, women accounted for 31.9% of all small business operators.
  • Slightly more women than men undertake volunteering in Australia.
  • Volunteering is highest among women aged between 35-44 years who work part-time and have dependent children.
  • There has been strong growth in women’s full-time earnings over the last 10 years.
  • In May 2004, the gender pay gap was 8% for average hourly ordinary full-time earnings.
  • 89.7% of women have superannuation contributions made by their employers.
  • Women are less likely than men to have superannuation and women’s average superannuation balances are lower than mens.

Education and Training

  • More women than men are being educated at secondary school and at university.
  • There are more women than men graduating from university with a Bachelor degree.
  • Women’s participation rates in many non-traditional areas of study have increased over the last decade.
  • There are fewer women than men in Engineering, Information Technology and Architecture and Building courses at universities.
  • There are more women than men in Health, Education, and Society and Culture courses at universities.
  • The employment prospects of graduates have improved over the last 10 years. However, male graduates are slightly more likely than female graduates to be employed full-time.
  • Female graduate starting salaries have increased and are 95.2% of male graduate starting salaries.
  • The overall numbers of women enrolled in vocational education and training courses and in apprenticeships and traineeships have grown over the last 10 years.
  • Between 1996 and 2005, the number of women in apprenticeships and traineeships has increased four fold.

Women and Leadership

  • Women account for 34.3% of all seats on Australian government controlled boards and bodies.
  • Women hold 20% of roles of Chair or Deputy Chair on Australian government boards.
  • 28.3% of Commonwealth parliamentarians are women.
  • In the private sector, 8.7% of board directorships are held by women.
  • 6 out of the top 200 Australian companies had female Chief Executive Officers in 2006.
  • Women hold 12% of all executive managerial positions in the private sector and 35% of senior executive positions in the public service.

Women and Crime

  • Domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women under the age of 45 years.
  • In 2002-03, domestic violence was estimated to cost the Australian economy $8 billion each year
  • At least 1 in 17 women is a victim of violence each year.
  • Fewer women reported being assaulted than 10 years ago.
  • Women are mostly assaulted at home, often repeatedly, by a man they know.
  • Women often talk to family or friends about the violence they are experiencing rather than go to the police or a support agency.
  • Women tend not to report assault because victims trivialise the incident or fear retaliation from the offender.
  • However, more women are reporting violence to police than 10 years ago.
  • Many people still believe that men are biologically driven to rape and female victims ask for it.
  • An increasing number of people believe that men and women equally commit domestic violence.
  • The number of female prisoners is increasing at a faster rate than male prisoners and for the more serious violent crimes.