Who are Australia's females?

Page highlights

There are 12.9 million females of all ages in Australia, just over half (51%) of the country’s population. Overall, there are about 102.7 females for every 100 males (ABS 2021b).

The typical Australian female is 39 years old, has a life expectancy of 85.4 years, and there are more females living in Major cities when compared with regional areas (ABS 2022r).

The female population is ageing

Over the last nearly 20 years, the median age of females, where half the female population is older and half is younger, has increased from 36.9 years in 2003 to 39.4 years in 2022 (ABS 2023c).

Over the last 10 years, the proportion of the female population aged 65 and over has also increased – from 15% of the total female population in 2012 to 18% in 2022. Percentage growth over the same 10-year period shows that females aged 65 and over grew by 36%, compared with those aged under 18 which grew by 10%, and those aged 18–64 which grew by 11% (ABS 2012, ABS 2023c).

Some females are more disadvantaged

One in 7 (14%) females in all age groups are living under the poverty line, defined as those living on after-tax household incomes below 50% of the median household income (Davidson et al. 2020).

Around 54,000 females are considered homeless with the greatest proportion being in the 25–34 age range (21%) (ABS 2023b). In 2021–22, around 150,000 females presented to specialist homelessness services as homeless, or at risk of homelessness (AIHW 2022aa).

There are around 3,000 Australian female prisoners in adult corrective services (7.3% of total prisoner population) (ABS 2021h).

Females experience a gender pay gap

The average full-time weekly wage is 16% less for females in 2022 (ABS 2023a). Over the last 30 years, employment participation of females has increased – about 74% of females aged 15–64 are employed in 2023 (ABS 2022g).

There are 494,000 females employed part-time who want to work more hours in 2022 (ABS 2022s). Females work about 7 less hours per week, and those aged 65 and over have 19% less in superannuation at retirement than males (ABS 2021c, ABS 2021e).

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the female population aged 15–74 have a non-school qualification, and 35% have a qualification at or above a bachelor’s degree compared with 29% of males (ABS 2021d).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females

There are nearly 491,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females as at 30 June 2021, representing 3.8% of the female population (ABS 2022c).

Indigenous females tend to be younger than non-Indigenous females. Around 3 in 10 (32%) are aged under 15, compared with around 18% non-Indigenous females. Females outnumber males in older age groups (100 Indigenous females for every 85 Indigenous males aged 65 or over) (ABS 2022c).

Around 3 in 5 Indigenous females aged 15 and over (63%) identify with a clan, tribal or language group, and 1 in 5 (19%) speak an Indigenous language (ABS 2016).

Indigenous females have a higher fertility rate (2.31 babies per woman) compared to non-indigenous Australian females (1.63) (ABS 2021a).

The disease groups causing the most ill health and death in Indigenous females are mental and substance use disorders, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular conditions (AIHW 2022k).

For more information on disease among Indigenous Australians, see Disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To learn more, see Indigenous Australians.

Australian females have diverse backgrounds – 3 in 10 females were born overseas

Three in 10 (30%) of all Australia’s females are born overseas. Of these, the most common countries of birth for these females are England (12%), China (8.6%), India (8.5%) and New Zealand (7.1%) (ABS 2022b).

Females outnumber males in Major cities

The density of the female population varies across the country. For example, in 2021 in Major cities and Inner regional areas, there are 103 females for every 100 males, compared with 92 females for every 100 males in Remote and very remote areas (ABS 2021f).

According to the latest available data from the 2021 ABS Census (ABS 2021f):

7 in 10 (72%) females live in Major cities

2 in 10 (18%) live in Inner regional areas

nearly 1 in 10 (7.9%) live in Outer regional areas

less than 1 in 50 (1.8%) live in Remote and Very Remote areas.