If Australia were 100 stereotypes

by | Mar 25, 2016 | gender, income, occupation, social issues, tax

For as long as I can remember it’s felt like we’ve been breaking down barriers and tearing down the regimes of acceptability. Traditional roles are no longer the norm, travelled by choice not momentum. Everybody’s road-fork a choice to be made.
But despite the changes, work occupations are still bastions of gender segregation.

Clichés and stereotypes such as tradies are men and teachers are women may not help fight outdated and ingrained social expectations, but they’re still the case in Australia, according to the latest ATO figures for 2013-14. Based on self-identified information from tax returns, there are 52,305 carpenters in Australia, of which only 127 are women. Similarly, only 94 of the 34,362 plumbers are women. That’s 0.2% and 0.3% of each occupation.

To simplify the situation using a popular meme: if Australia were 100 carpenters (or plumbers), none of them would be women. Not one.

IfAuswere 100 Carpenters

(I’ve not stats on how many are called Warren)

While I expected clichés to imitate life, I assumed they were exaggerating.

Overall, 637,402 Australians work in occupations where men make up at least 99% of the workforce. That’s 6% of all people with a known occupation. More broadly speaking, 35% of tax-paying men have roles where men make up at least 90% of the occupation. 50% occupy roles where men dominate by at least 80%. That’s to say that half of all working men live in roles where they outnumber women by (at least) 4 to 1. This includes occupations such as:

Top men occupations

What kind of impact is this environment and constant reinforcement having on half of all men?

While women dominated roles are less pronounced, 40% of women work in roles where women make up (at least) 80% of the workforce. This includes the following occupations:

Top women occupations

This lopsidedness on both sides means a minority of all workers (17%) fill roles which are equally distributed. (Evenly distributed is defined as 50 +/- 10%.)

Distribution of sex occupations

If we are to break down the gap between sexes, either roles need to become a lot less “gendered” or occupations need to become a lot more evenly rewarded. Whilst some movements has been made towards more equal distributions in the past 30 years, the information above shows there’s a huge way still to go.


All figures based on ATO statistics for 2013-14, Individuals Table 14A&14B.