6 Gender

Representation overview

The proportion of women in the NSW public sector has been increasing for over a decade. In 2018 the Workforce Profile data shows that 65.1% of employees were female, compared to 60.6% in 2008.


The NSW public sector continued to employ a higher proportion of women than the broader NSW labour market.1 Representation of women in the broader NSW workforce stood at 45.1% in 2008 and increased to 47.0% in 2018. The higher proportion of women in the public sector is driven by the high representation of women in the two largest clusters of Education (77.7% female) and Health (74.7%). Education and Health made up 66.2% of the overall 2018 sector headcount. The lowest female representation was in the Transport cluster, where 24.3% of employees were female.

Table 6.1: Public sector representation of women by cluster, 2018

Cluster Women Total public sector Women (%)
Education 91,085 117,265 77.7
External to government sector 547 1,144 47.8
Family & Community Services 7,857 10,255 76.6
Finance, Services & Innovation 4,900 8,043 60.9
Health 108,377 145,173 74.7
Industry 12,462 21,814 57.1
Justice 17,530 46,453 37.7
Planning & Environment 6,413 15,198 42.2
Premier & Cabinet 1,020 1,594 64.0
Transport 6,749 27,742 24.3
Treasury 910 1,562 58.3
Total public sector 257,850 396,243 65.1

The occupations with the highest proportions of female employees in 2018 were School Support Staff (87.0% female), Nurses (86.7%) and School Teachers (77.1%). Together these occupations accounted for more than half (55.9%) of all female employees in the public sector.

Despite the high level of representation across the sector, women remained under-represented in the higher salary levels when compared to men and as a proportion of their overall representation in the sector. Figure 6.2 shows there has been a consistent trend in the sector that there is a higher proportion of females in lower paid roles, and a lower proportion in higher paid roles, and that this is shifting over time. Since 2014 the female non-casual headcount at the Grade 11/12 level has increased by 26.5% (2,168 headcount), and at the Senior Executive level it has increased 52.8% (1,091 headcount).

Figure 6.2: Gender distributions by salary group (non-casual), 2018 - 2018

Please use the tabs to explore other years



Workforce Profile 2018 data on the distribution of male and female employees across pay bands shows that 7.0% of men and only 2.5% of women worked at salaries above Grade 11/12, an increase of 0.2 percentage points for both genders over 2017. In the pipeline grades (9/10 and 11/12), 20.8% of employees were men and 16.1% were women. This gap widened by 0.1 percentage point in 2018 compared to 2017.


Contributing to the gender imbalance in higher salary bands is the fact that fewer women applied for the roles in these bands.


Figure 6.3 highlights that higher numbers of females applied for roles with salaries of less than $92,470, and more males applied for roles above this salary level. There were 2.4 applications from women for every application from a man for roles in the $61,658 to $68,929 salary range. In the more highly remunerated roles, the gap between the number of applications from men and women generally widened as remuneration increased. It was at its widest for Senior Executive Band 1 roles, which attracted 2.0 applications from men for every application from a woman.


While fewer females than males applied for roles with higher salaries in 2018, their success rate was higher in roles with remuneration from $81,369. The success rate among females was on average higher than for males across all of the high-salary roles, but the difference narrowed to 0.6% for roles in the Senior Executive Band 1 range (the success rate for females was 2.0% compared to 1.4% for males).


The net effect of the gender imbalance in number of applications and success rate can be seen in Figure 6.5. A higher proportion of females were appointed in roles under $157,763, and a higher proportion of males were appointed in roles with remuneration above this level through to Band 1 senior executive roles, where 59.6% of appointments were male. However, in Band 3 roles the proportion of appointments was equal between male and female.

Senior leader gender equity

Figure 6.6 shows the progress that has been made at a cluster level since the target was introduced. The representation of women in senior leadership roles varied across clusters and has been increasing over time.


The challenge faced in increasing the proportion of female appointments is linked to the lower rates of applications by females in these roles.

Commuting profile

As detailed in ‘Regional profile of the public sector’, analysis of data about employees living on the Central Coast and in the Illawarra region shows a link between remuneration and commuting patterns.

Twice as many men than women who resided in these regional areas in 2018 commuted to Sydney (36.1% and 18.2% respectively). More than three-quarters of women worked in their home region compared to around half of men (see Figure 6.7).


Figure 6.8 highlights the relationship between commuting and remuneration in 2018. The overall percentage of employees travelling to Sydney for work from the Illawarra and Central Coast regions increases with an increase in salary band. The proportion of women travelling to Sydney for work was lower than the proportion of men across most salary bands. However, the gap progressively narrowed until in the highest salary ranges the percentage of women travelling was almost equal to that of men, and slightly higher in senior executive roles.

Median remuneration male
+3.3% vs 2017
Median remuneration female
+2.5% vs 2017
  • Gender pay gap

In 2018, the gap between the median remuneration of NSW public sector females and males increased to 1.1% ($949) from the lowest ever recorded level of 0.3% ($252) in 2017.


This was the first widening of the gender pay gap since 2015 but it was still smaller than a decade ago when it was 4.3%. The increase in the pay gap in 2018 can be largely attributed to changes in gender balance in the lower salaries. As shown in Table 6.2, there was a 1.6% decrease in the number of males paid below the median salary and a 1.0% increase in females, while the percentage change for those paid above the median salary was similar for both males and females.

Table 6.2: Change in headcount for salaries below and at or above the median, (non-casual) at census date, 2017-18

Change – males (%) Change – females (%)
Below median -1.6 1.0
Median and above 2.3 2.4
All salaries 0.5 1.7

Figure 6.10 shows the increase in females in the lower salary ranges, particularly in the $61,658 to $81,369 range. This was primarily due to an increase in female teachers in this salary range, accounting for 93.6% of the increase. At the same time, the number of females increased more than the number of males in the higher salary ranges. However, this was not at a level that would affect the overall pay gap.

Median remuneration and the gender pay gap differed across services.


Within the government sector, other Crown services had the largest pay gap. This primarily related to School Support Staff, who made up 49.1% of the other Crown services. These employees had a lower median remuneration of $50,303 and 84.4% were female.

In contrast, the median remuneration for women in the Transport Service was 34.2% higher than for men. This was due to the high proportion of male Bus Drivers (3,627 headcount) with a lower median remuneration of $56,866.

The Public Service was the only other service where the median remuneration of women was higher than for men. Overall, 55.0% of employees in the Public Service and 47.8% of senior executives were women. In 2018, the gender pay gap increased from 1.4% in 2017 to 4.3% in 2018, in part due to the loss of lower-paid roles from the Department of Family and Community Services that were predominantly filled by women.

Employment arrangements

Over the past year, the proportion of both men and women in part-time employment remained unchanged. Around 36.9% of non-casual female employees in the NSW public sector worked part-time compared with 11.0% of male non-casual employees.

Table 6.3: Employment arrangement by gender, non-casual census headcount, 2018

Male Female
Full-time 108,315 142,449
Part-time 13,431 83,333

Of the 97 public sector departments and agencies that employed people on a parttime basis in 2018, 77 agencies (79%) had at least 75% female part-time employee representation compared with 86% of agencies last year.

Table 6.4 Employment arrangement by gender, non-casual census headcount, 2018

Male (%) Female (%)
Full-time 43.2 56.8
Part-time 13.9 86.1

Figure 6.12 shows the proportion of part-time employees by gender for each service. In 2018, the NSW Health Service continued to have the highest proportion of men (17.3%) in part-time employment and the second highest proportion of women (37.1%).

Other Crown services were the only services where the majority of female roles were part-time (78.9%). These employees were primarily in school administration and support roles (95.7%). The Public Service had the closest parity between males and females in part-time work, with 18.6% of women employed part-time compared to 8.3% of men.


Females were more likely to be employed part-time across all salary bands with the exception of the highest band, where number and proportion of both males and females were very low (see Figure 6.13).

Figure 6.13: Part-time (non-casual) employees by salary group, 2018

Please use the tabs to explore other years



*All staff is the total of full-time and part-time staff members

However, the distribution of part-time employees by salary and gender was much more uniform (see Figure 6.14). This suggests that within a salary band there was a common demand for part-time employees.


In 2018, over 65% of females working part-time were School Teachers, Midwifery and Nursing Professionals, General Clerks and Educational Aides.

For both genders, School Teacher was the top part-time occupation, accounting for 20.8% of all female part-time employees and 16.6% of all male part-time employees. In Midwifery and Nursing Professionals, 18.8% of females worked part-time, more than double the proportion of males (8.5%).

Health and Welfare Support Workers, Medical Practitioners, and Personal Carers and Assistants were other occupations with high proportions of part-time workers for both genders.

Table 6.5: Top 10 part-time occupations for males, non-casual census headcount, 2018

Occupations Headcount at census % of males
1 School Teachers 2,264 16.6
2 Miscellaneous Labourers 1,801 13.2
3 Medical Practitioners 1,797 13.2
4 Education Aides 1,301 9.6
5 Midwifery and Nursing Professionals 1,155 8.5
6 Personal Carers and Assistants 474 3.5
7 Automobile, Bus and Rail Drivers 473 3.5
8 Cleaners and Laundry Workers 455 3.3
9 General Clerks 392 2.9
10 Health and Welfare Support Workers 340 2.5

Table 6.6: Top 10 part-time occupations for females, non-casual census headcount, 2018

Occupations Headcount at census % of females
1 School Teachers 17,388 20.8
2 Midwifery and Nursing Professionals 15,682 18.8
3 General Clerks 12,541 15.0
4 Education Aides 9,825 11.8
5 Health and Welfare Support Workers 3,198 3.8
6 Social and Welfare Professionals 2,186 2.6
7 Medical Practitioners 1,937 2.3
8 Health Therapy Professionals 1,757 2.1
9 Personal Carers and Assistants 1,722 2.1
10 Health Diagnostic and Promotion Professionals 1,516 1.8


1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia, ‘Table 4. Labour force status by Sex, New South Wales – Trend, Seasonally adjusted and Original’, cat. no. 6202.0