About this report

This research report was commissioned by HiBob in honor of International Women’s Day 2022 and surveyed 1,000 women professionals in Australia. All respondents were 25 and older and were employed full-time in a hybrid or in-office workplace in 2020 and 2021. This report provides insights on professional women’s perceptions about compensation, promotions, the Great Resignation, the influence of company culture, and more.   
The data also includes breakdowns by company size, role, profession, and age groups, where differences of opinion provide vital insights into the multiplicity of challenges women face in the workplace.

Five key takeaways

1. Only one-third of Australian professional women believe that they are paid equally to men while one-third believe men are paid more 

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that only one-third of professional women in Australia believe that men and women are equally paid. Worse, is that one-third believe that men are paid more.  When you break down the respondents, by managerial status, it doesn’t improve. Slightly fewer women senior managers believe that women and men are equally paid (33%) than middle managers (35%) or individual contributors (35%).

2. Australian  professional women struggle to receive advances in pay, benefits, and promotions

While a majority of professional women (55%) received some sort of increase in 2021, whether in pay, benefits, or position, only 38% actually received an increase in pay. Women in senior management positions were more much more likely to be promoted (36%) than middle managers (26%) or individual contributors (25%), but there was much less disparity in pay raises, with 39% of senior managers receiving a pay increase compared to 36% of middle managers and 40% of individual contributors.

3. Many more women expect their work-life balance to improve than stay the same or get worse

When work shifted out of the office during the COVID-19 pandemic, work-life balance became a huge challenge. In 2022, professional women in Australia are optimistic. More than one-third expect their work-life balance to improve (37%), while 29% expect it to stay the same, and 27% expect it to get worse.  The most optimistic groups about improved work-life balance were women in HR (43%) and women in tech (39%).

4. Three times as many Australian women in HR quit their jobs than were fired 

The Great Migration continued in 2021, with 29% of women in HR quitting their jobs compared to 10% who were fired or let go.  Just one-third (34%) of women in HR were working in the same job with the same company, compared to 41% of women in tech and 44% of women in all other professions. More than one-quarter of women in HR expect to leave their jobs in 2022 (27%). This is more than women in tech (13%) or women in all other professions (18%).

5. Pay is critical, but not equally enticing to everyone 

A pay increase was the most enticing reason to leave a job among individual contributors (57%) and middle managers (55%), but only 35% of senior managers agreed. Senior managers reported that flexible work—including flexible hours and remote work—and a healthy company culture were just as enticing as a pay increase.  

Healthy company culture was less important to senior managers (36%) than to middle managers (41%) or individual contributors (43%).  Women in tech were much less attracted to mentorship opportunities (22%) compared to women in HR (30%) or all other professions (28%).

The women-men pay gap 

Do you feel that men and women are paid equally for the same role at your company?

In Australia, only 32% of respondents believe that women and men are paid equally at the company where they work, while 33% believe that men are paid more than women. 20% are unsure and 15% hold that women are paid more.

Breakdown by Company Size

The poor results regarding pay equality are consistent across all company sizes: large (35%), medium (32%), and small(33%). The belief that men are paid more than women was also consistent at large (31%) and medium-sized companies (32%), and even slightly higher at small companies (34%). Slightly fewer women at small companies did not know whether women were paid the same as men (18%) compared to large (21%) or medium-sized companies (20%).   

Breakdown by Role

Slightly fewer women senior managers believe that women and men are equally paid (33%) than middle managers (35%) or individual contributors (35%).  20% of senior managers believe that women are paid more than men, compared to 14% of middle managers or 12% of individual contributors. Only 26% of senior managers feel that men are paid more than women, compared to 37% of middle managers and 36% of individual contributors.

Breakdown by Profession

Fewer women in HR (22%) believe that women and men are paid equally compared to women in tech (25%) or all other professions (34%).  Women in technical positions are also more likely to believe that their company pays men more than women (40%). This is more than women in HR (37%) or women in all other professions (32%).  22% of women in HR believe that women are paid more than men, compared to 16% of women in tech or 14% of women in all other professions.

Breakdown by Age Groups

38% of women 45-54 believe that women and men are paid equally compared to only 29% of professional women over 54.  34% of women aged 25-34, and 32% of women 35-44 believe there is pay equality. 19% of women over 54 believe that women are paid more than men, compared to 14% of women 25-34, 17% of women 35-44, and just 8% of women 45-54.

Promotions and women in leadership

Were you promoted in pay, benefits, or position upgrades the past year? 

2021 was a fairly good year for women getting promotions. 55% of women received a raise in pay, benefits, or position. 38% received a pay increase, while 28% were promoted to a new position.  27% expect a promotion in pay, benefits, or position in 2022.

Breakdown by Company Size

Women at medium-sized companies were more likely to receive a promotion (57%) than women at large companies (52%) or women at small companies (55%). Women at small companies were much more likely to receive a pay increase (40%) than a new position (25%) or an increase in benefits (28%). 30% of women at small companies expect a pay increase in 2022 compared to 27% of women at large companies or 25% at medium-sized companies.

Breakdown by Role

More senior managers (senior directors, VPs, or executives)  received a promotion in position, pay, or benefits (36%) in 2021, compared to middle managers (26%) or individual contributors (25%). 40% of individual contributors received a pay increase compared to 39% of senior managers and 36% of middle managers. 29% of senior managers did not receive a pay raise in 2021, but expect to receive one in 2022, compared to 25% of middle managers and individual contributors.

Breakdown by Profession

Australian women in technical positions were less likely to receive a promotion in pay, benefits, or position than women in other professions. 51% of women in tech received some sort of promotion, compared to 57% of women in HR, or 55% of women in all other professions. 43% of women in HR expect to receive a promotion in 2022, compared to 28% in tech or 26% in all other positions.

Breakdown by Age

Younger professional women aged 25-34 were more likely to receive a promotion in pay, benefits, or position than any other group (57%).  This is slightly more than women 35-44 (54%), women 45-54 (53%), or women over 54 (46%), and quite a bit more than women over 54 (44%).  Only 24% of women over 54 expect a promotion in pay, benefits, or position in 2022.  Slightly more women aged 25-34 (26%)expect some sort of promotion, as do 29% of women 25-34.

Work-life balance & confidence

Do you expect your work-life balance to improve in 2022?

Work-life balance is an ongoing challenge and increased significantly during the two years of the COVID-19  pandemic when work shifted to the home office. In 2022, more women expect their work-life balance to improve (37%), compared to staying the same (29%) or getting worse (27%).  

Breakdown by Company Size

42% of women at medium-sized companies expect their work-life balance to improve in 2022, compared to 38% at small companies or 32% at large companies. More professional women working at large companies expect their work-life balance to stay the same (35%) compared to women at medium-sized and small companies (26% each).  

Breakdown by Role

Women across various roles were in agreement regarding an improvement in their work-life balance in 2022. 35% of senior managers and middle managers expect an improvement, as do 34% of individual contributors.  30% of senior managers believe that their work-life balance will get worse, compared to 26% of middle managers and individual contributors.

Breakdown by Profession

43% of HR women professionals expect their work-life balance to improve in 2022. This is higher than women in tech (39%) or all other professions (33%).  Nearly twice as many women in technical positions expect their work-life balance to get better (39%) than worse (20%). More women in tech are also unsure whether their work-life balance will get better or worse (20%) than women in all other professions (13%) or HR (11%).

Breakdown by Age Groups

Older women are slightly more optimistic about work-life balance in 2022 than other age groups.  36% of women over 54  feel it will improve, compared to 34% of women aged 45-54, 33% of women 35-44, and 34% of women 25-34. Women over 54 are the least pessimistic about work-life balance, with 24% believing that it will worsen, compared to 28% of women 45-54 and 35-44, and 27% of women 25-34.

Do you feel confident in your performance?

Feeling confident in your performance means you feel productive, and that you are aware of your value to your team, and your part in your company’s success. More than half of Australian women professionals report that they are confident in their performance (56%). Nearly one-third (30%) were not confident while 15% constantly struggled with confidence in their performance, and a sizable 14% were unsure.

Breakdown by Company Size

In Australia, women across companies of all sizes were similarly confident in their performance (56-57). Their lack of confidence was similar (29-30%),  but  for women at large and small companies, confidence was more of a constant struggle (16%) compared to women at medium-sized companies (12%).

Breakdown by Role

Surprisingly, senior managers were much less confident (48%) compared to middle managers (63%) or individual contributors (62%). Twice as many senior managers constantly struggled with confidence (20%) compared to middle managers (10%) and many more senior managers were also unsure or neutral about their confidence (17%) compared to middle managers and individual contributors (12% each).

Breakdown by Profession
Women in technical positions were almost as confident in their positions (55%) as women in HR (57%) or all other professions (56%),  but the gaps were wider in a lack of confidence. 36% of tech women feel not confident (36%) compared to 33% of women in HR and 29% of women in all other professions.  Women in tech also faced more of a constant struggle with confidence (21%) compared to women in HR (19%) and women in all other professions (14%).

Breakdown by Age Groups

While women over 54 are the least confident (48%), and women 25-34 are the most confident (61%), decreasing confidence is not merely a reflection of age. Women 45-54 were significantly more confident (60%) than their peers who are 35-44 (51%). Women 35-44 were slightly more likely to constantly struggle with confidence (17%) than women 45-54 (16%), women over 54 (15%), and women 25-34 (14%).

The Great Resignation

Did you leave your job in 2021? 

The  “Great Resignation” or “Great Migration” induced by two years of the COVID-19  pandemic continued in 2021, with 39% changing their jobs.  Women were more likely to have quit their job (22%) than be fired (17%). In 2022, 19% of all professional women expect to leave their jobs. While this is down from the overall number of women who changed jobs, it actually represents a slight increase in women who are quitting.

Breakdown by Company Size

40% of professional women at large and small companies changed jobs in 2021 compared to 36% of women at medium companies. Women at small companies were more likely to quit (24%) compared to women in medium (22%) or large companies (20%). Regarding 2022, slightly more women at medium-sized companies are planning to change jobs (20%) than women at small companies (19%) or large companies (17%).

Breakdown by Role

A whopping 46% of senior managers left their jobs in 2021, with 23% quitting and 23% getting fired. The percentage of senior managers who were fired is much higher than middle managers (13%)  and individual contributors (12%). Senior managers were also slightly more likely to quit compared to middle managers (21%) or individual contributors (20%). Just over one-third of senior managers (35%) stayed in the same job with the same company in 2021.

Breakdown by Profession

46% of women in tech (developers and engineers) left their jobs in 2021. Slightly more quit (24%) than were fired (22%).  In HR, women were three times as likely to quit their jobs (29%) than be fired (10%).  Only 34% of women in HR were working in the same job with the same company, compared to 41% of women in tech and 44% of women in all other professions. Many more women in HR also expect to leave their jobs in 2022 (27%), compared to women in all other professions (18%) or women in tech (18%).

Breakdown by Age Groups

42% of Australian women 35-44  left their jobs in 2021. This is more than women 25-34 (38%) and significantly more than women  45-54 (33%), women over 54 (34%).  Women over 54 were less likely to be  fired than average (13% vs.17%), and less than women 45-54 (14%), women 25-34 (15%), or women 35-44 (20%). 23% of women over 54 expect to leave their jobs in 2022, followed by 20% of women 35-44, 18% of women 25-34, and 16% of women 45-54.

What would entice you to take a new job with a new employer?

The top three enticements for Australian professional women taking a new job were: increased pay (48%), flexible work (43%), and a strong and healthy company culture (40%).  

Breakdown by Company Size

Women in large companies were more enticed by an increase in pay (53%) than women in small companies (46%) or medium-sized companies (45%).  Flexible work was less enticing to women at small companies (40%) and medium-sized companies (41%) than at large companies (46%).  Company culture was most important for women in large companies (43%), followed by women in medium companies (40%) and women in small companies (36%). There were significant differences in a path to promotion as an enticement. 39% of women at large companies found it enticing, compared to 30% of women at small companies and 25% at medium-sized companies.

Breakdown by Role

Individual contributors and middle managers are much more enticed by an increase in pay (57% and 55%) compared to senior managers (35%). They also find flexible work more important (48% and 46%) than senior managers (36%). Middle managers were more enticed by company culture (44%) than individual contributors (38%) or senior managers (33%).  A strong and healthy company culture was also less important to senior managers (36%), than middle managers (41%) or individual contributors (43%), but this difference was less pronounced than a pay increase or flexible hours.

Breakdown by Profession

A pay increase is less of an enticement for women in tech (46%) than women in HR (51%) or all other professions (48%). Flexible work is more attractive to women in HR (47%) than women in tech and engineering or in all other professions (42%). Guaranteed learning and development opportunities were much more enticing to women in tech (36%) than women in HR (28%) or all other professions (30%).

Breakdown by Age Group

The value of a pay increase was the most attractive enticement for women 45-54 (56%), 35-44 (47%), and 25-34 (49%).  Only 34% of women over 54 found this enticing. For women over 54, the most popular enticement was flexible work and a strong healthy corporate culture (39%), closely followed by company values (3%).  All age groups were more or less equally enticed by a strong and healthy culture (39% or 40%), placing it clearly as the third most popular enticement

Does your company offer, or have they expanded women-specific benefits?

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Where do you experience your company’s attitude towards women? 

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Has a colleague ever made you feel uncomfortable or less qualified in the workplace because you are a woman?