Women could earn the same as men in most management roles within the next two decades, a new report shows.

New research finds women are progressing into full-time management roles at a faster rate than men, but, based on current growth patterns, female CEOs will have to wait another 80 years before achieving equal representation with their male counterparts.

The study by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has made a number of key findings:

  • If the current growth patterns continue, we can expect to see equal representation of women and men in full-time management roles in the following years;
    • Chief Executive Officer – 2100
    • Key Management Personnel – 2039
    • Executives – 2047
    • Senior Managers – 2037
    • Other Managers – 2031
    • All Managers – 2042
  • The highest paid men are earning at least $162,000 more than the highest paid women

  • Employer-funded paid parental leave schemes covering 13-plus weeks halves the share of female managers who stop working during PPL relative to those who access only the Australian Government PPL scheme

  • Flexible work arrangements coupled with reporting to Boards increases the share of part-time female managers by 13.6 percentage points

  • The share of female full-time managers increases by an average of 8.6 percentage points for companies with a female CEO. And moving from all-male to gender-equal company boards increases the share of full-time female managers by 7.3 percentage points and the share of part-time female managers by 13.7 percentage points

  • Gender pay gaps at different levels of management seniority combine to reduce the share of full-time female managers by an average of 9.9 percentage points, and the share of part-time female managers by 7.9 percentage points

  • Employer-provided onsite childcare increases the retention of female managers during PPL by almost one-fifth (18.9 per cent)

  • Women are noticeably under-represented among top-tier managers in the Health Care sector (51.9 per cent) relative to their overall presence in the workforce (71 per cent)

  • Women are most under-represented in top-tier management positions. However, this category has seen the fastest growth rate, increasing by 4.4 percentage points in the last five years

  • The glass ceiling remains a barrier for women at CEO level, with very little movement in the last five years (+1.1 percentage point)

Report co-author and BCEC Director Professor Alan Duncan said flexible work and employer-funded paid parental leave schemes were having a positive impact on keeping women at work.

“The share of women in part-time management roles almost doubled when the company’s flexible work policies were held to account by their boards, from 7.5 percentage points to 13.6 percentage points,” Professor Duncan said.

“We also found strong evidence that more generous employer-funded paid parental leave schemes are associated with better rates of worker retention.

“Companies that offer at least 13 weeks of employer-funded paid parental leave halve the share of female managers who leave the company while on leave, compared to those who access only the government paid parental leave scheme.”

The full report is accessible here.