16/11/2016 8:12 AM AEDT | Updated 16/11/2016 1:13 PM AEDT

The Stubborn Gender Pay Gap Now At 23 Percent

Australian women earn substantially less than men at every level.

Andrew Dyson illustration
Gender pay gap. Women earn 77 percent of men's average full-time income.

CANBERRA – Women continue to undervalue themselves and so do male managers, but pay disparity is narrowing.

That's the take out from the latest Australian gender equality scorecard, being released Wednesday, which has found women still earn substantially less than men at every level.

Annual figures from the Australia's Workplace Gender Equality Agency has found a gender pay gap of 23 percent with disparity existing even if a woman does exactly the same work as a male colleague in the same workplace.

"It is disappointing that in 2016 we have things such a gender pay gap," Agency director Libby Lyons told The Huffington Post Australia.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency

"Women do undervalue themselves, but we also have to ask men to step up and challenge behaviour in their organisations when they see women not being treated fairly in their negotiations in terms of pay.

"I think our unconscious bias has a huge part to play in this.".

The latest update -- based on almost 5,000 private sector employer reports given to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency between April 2015 and March 2016 -- has found that men, on average, earn almost $27,000 a year more than women.

That's 77 percent of men's average full-time income.

At the top level of management, women are substantially under-represented and the salary gap rises to $93,884.

Women are also under-represented in leadership roles: holding just 16.3 per cent of CEO and 37.4 percent of all manager roles.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency

The largest industry gender pay gaps were in financial and insurance services (33.5 percent) and real estate (29.3 percent), while the smallest pay gap was in education (9.4 percent).

The good news is the situation is slowly getting better. "In all our major indicators that we measure we have seen improvement over the three-year period," Lyons told HuffPost Australia

"It is slow ... It is not easy.

"One of things we have to do is ensure we get more females into the management pipeline and this year, for the first year, we have seen that 42 percent of appointments and promotions into management roles have been women."

"So we will start seeing those women start to come up through the pipeline."

But pay parity between genders appears to be the million dollar question.

"I haven't got a crystal ball," Lyons said. "I am optimistic it will be in the foreseeable future, but we need things to happen more quickly.

"We need employers to actually start stepping up and taking action."