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Scientists want better pay for jobs

A significant proportion of Australia’s scientists are unhappy with their pay despite average increases in the sector above inflation and general wages growth over the past year.

More than one-third of scientists surveyed for the 2017 Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Report were dissatisfied with their pay levels.

Just 45 per cent were happy with their salary.

About two in five said their remuneration was falling behind market rates and didn’t reflect the level of responsibility of their day-to-day work, the survey released on Wednesday found.

The average increase to base salaries for professional scientists in 2017 was 2.4 per cent – well above the increase to cost of living, which is now running at 1.9 per cent, and the wage price index of 2.1 per cent.

However, 31.6 per cent of scientists said their pay packets didn’t grow at all in the past year.

There was a large jump in the proportion considering leaving their current job – 43 per cent in 2017 compared with 35 per cent the previous year – with a pay increase the top suggestion of what would change their minds.

“We need to better recognise and reward our scientists for the important work they do, while also giving them their resources and people needed to do their job,” Professionals Australia chief executive Chris Walton said upon releasing the report.

He was concerned by a persistent gender pay gap of an average $14,500, partly driven by the concentration of men in more senior roles.

Even women with more than 30 years of experience reported a pay gap of almost $10,000.

As well, nearly half of all female scientists said they had personally experienced gender-based bias or discrimination during the past three years.

“Unfortunately, the glass ceiling still persists in our scientific community and we need organisations to work harder on their gender and discrimination policies,” Mr Walton said.

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