08/03/2016 3:40 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Women Need To Help Their Future Selves


International Women's Day is often a time of reflection, when we look at how far women have come in the workplace and how much further we have to go.

We hear a lot about diversity and leadership targets and although many organisations are making progress, there is still a clear gender earnings gap. In fact, Westpac's International Women's Day Report, designed to explore the 2016 International Women's Day theme Pledge for Parity, shows Australia has a gender earnings gap of $123.4 billion a year, demonstrating that gender parity is not only good for women, but for the wider economy.

Mobilising women to their full potential in the workplace will not only help achieve gender parity but would provide a massive boost to the wider economy, impacting measures such as economic growth, investment, savings and national wealth.

The research also found women are on the back foot from the word go, with most commencing their full-time careers earning 11.9 percent less than men, and are continuing to earn less every year from then on. In addition, on average a woman's salary peaks at 31 years old, while a man's salary reaches its highest point at 39.

These are pretty startling figures, which start to shine a spotlight on not only what society is doing but what we as women can do to help bridge the gap.

In my experience, there are often a few small things women can do to help with their future careers.

Let the young you look after the old you: The superannuation gap for women is significant, so get organised early and set yourself up. Making additional contributions to your superannuation will help bolster your account and could make a huge difference when it comes to retirement.

It can't hurt to ask: At your next performance review, or meeting with your manager, why not start salary negotiations or a discussion about what opportunities there are for a pay increase. Arming yourself with evidence, particularly measurable figures, will help support your case.

Plan for a career break. Career breaks can be a great time to work out your next move, invest in education or start a family. Plan them in advance and budget accordingly and honestly. For a budget to work, you need to be honest with yourself and to look at all money going in and out. Then set aside a couple of minutes each day to think about your finances and check in on your spending to identify any red flags and see how you are tracking.

Share the load: Sharing the primary caregiver role with your partner can allow you to return to work sooner and continue to progress your career. Make the right decision for you and your family; in some cases it may make more sense for your partner to be the primary caregiver.

For more tips and information to help you reduce the pay gap, visit:

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