Re: I had expected better
"Women still earn less than men"
If this is the 77c in the $ argument*, then you really need to read the entire report - it explains why this isn't evidence of inequality in pay. Women earn less than men over their career. This is not the same as there being discrimination in pay.
A man earns $400 a week. A woman doing the same job at the same company earns $350 a week. This is inequality, yes? This is what the numbers suggest, surely.
Except: The man works 40hr a week, the woman earns 35hr a week - they are both paid at the same rate: $10 an hour. Where is the discrimination? Where is the inequality? As long as both can work 40 hours if they want or 35 hours, and they are paid the same rate, there is no discrimination. Yet they are paid different ammounts because one choses to work 40 hours, the other works 35 hours.
This is why the 77c in 1$ is misleading: Total pay, not hourly rate. And that's not even going near the issue of differences in employers, benefits in kind and the favourite: Salary Sacrifice schemes!
Study into hourly rates, strangely, indicate there is very little in the way of pay gaps, with women potentially earning $1.02 per 1$ a man earns, on hourly rates (this mostly comes from part time work, though).
As to career prospects...
Edwina Curry put this very well: If you set targets for appointing women to post then you will not get the best person for that job**.
A translation of this is simply: If you appoint a woman to post who was not the best candidate then she will not be as good as her peers. When it comes to promotions, she will logically lag behind as she isn't the best candidate, and may never be so. This will haunt her through her career as she will always be behind others, who were appointed based on their merits, not their gender.
And industry has been under pressure to appoint more women into 'male dominate' roles: A PR stunt that doesn't do anyone any good.
*I have stuck to using $ as the report most quoted in the apparent pay gap arguments is a US report by the treasury and so is in $'s.
**clarification: This refers to appointing a candidate due to gender rather than merit. This is not to say a woman can't be the best candidate.