“Cost of gender gap put at $195b”,but still too much focus on flexibility and not enough on economic and political policy change

Cost of gender gap put at $195b

March 9, 2013

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Another unfavourable and I think unhelpful comment in this article that focuses only on the key issues of childcare and workplace flexibility.  It is limiting and makes women sound like special cases instead of addressing the real issues of centuries of legislation that created an unequal gendered workplace.

In the article, this quote “Diversity strategy and compliance expert Prue Gilbert from Prue Gilbert Consulting said the key focuses for government should be childcare and workplace flexibility.”  is one that I think is unfavourable and unhelpful.  More than just focusing on these issues we need [Australian] government policy changes that assist and encourage ‘families’ and single parents to return to the workforce without losing key financial incentives.  Many parents suffer from increasing tax burdens on second income’s and reductions in child care subsidies making a return to work less attractive financially for those wishing to return to work.  Many older female workers (over 40) are finding it difficult to stay in, or return to the workforce because of the stigma’s of agism and the traditional feminized role that some of these women may have held in previous positions that makes the cost of this experience harder to complete with less expensive younger workers.  So again, lets not just put it all down to flexibility and childcare, this is a complex issue that has taken many centuries of legislation to embed itself and needs to now be dismantled bit by bit.  I am not saying that flexibility and childcare arn’t important, they are, but they are only part of the issue.

However the article does point out some salient facts that if we do manage to keep more women in the workforce there are significant implications for the economy.

“Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that female participation in the workforce fell in the 15-to-19, 20-to-24 and 45-to-54 age brackets over the past three years.

Figures compiled exclusively for The Saturday Age by Goldman Sachs reveal that in dollar terms this equates to an estimated $33 billion in GDP foregone between now and 2016. ”Lifting female participation is one way to do this and, given the politics around immigration, it is the most politically expedient path. It also utilises a highly educated resource that Australia has already invested in,” he said.

Shadow minister for finance Andrew Robb said the analysis, while sobering, showed there was enormous potential to materially boost female participation with the right policies.”


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