Following Patricia Arquette’s controversial Oscars speech, new figures show a startling difference in pay between genders in Australia that is sure to further ignite the equality debate.

In what is to be the largest recorded difference since 1994, the Australian gender pay gap has stretched to a staggering 18.8%, meaning that the average full-time earning male will collect an average of $298.10 more than their female counterparts per week.

From 1994 when the Australian Bureau of Statistics initially began collecting gender gap data, this figure was marginally lower at 15.9%. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency the figure has had small fluctuations over the years but has been fairly stagnant with the previous findings showing a gap of 17.5%.

The debate of gender pay equality has been a particularly hot topic this week after a growing number of prominent figures, alongside Arquette, have weighed in on the discussion with a call for action, including former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Meryl Streep.

Earlier this week the Abbott government announced that it would be easing the gender reporting requirements for private organizations from the legislation implemented by Labor. These laws that were introduced in 2012 required businesses with over 100 employees to report all details of the gender breakdown in the workplace.

The most recent Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum places Australia as 24th out of 124 for ranking of gender equality behind New Zealand (13), Canada (19) and the USA (20).

Why do you think the pay gap is so large? Have your say in the comments below!