Gender Equality is important, particularly in terms of gender diversity and seeing more women in leadership. Women make up up more than half the population in most countries, except for India and China (United Nations 2010; pg. vii) where there are more men than women, effectively creating a greater number of men worldwide. Women are the back bone of support structures in most situations (some without choice), and are the target of marketers of consumer products, yet they do not have full representation at executive manager and board level in most organizations.
It is imperative that women claim their voice, as equal citizens, as company directors and policy makers to shape a future for our children that is inclusive and not exclusive. Gender diversity is here, and is rightfully being recognized as a way to improve economic outcomes by tapping into creativity, innovation and a thinking pattern outside the norm. Gender diversity programs offer organizations a mechanism to reach female resource’s that are often hidden in supporting roles where they are merely supporters of strategy instead of the instigators or collaborators of organisational strategy.
Greater gender diversity will allow many women to input directly into our economic future as decision makers and leaders, and not be restricted to indirectly impacting the economy by being consumers and supporters. The parenting and care giver role, traditionally attributed to female’s need not be barriers to a women’s progression to leadership roles, or economic burdens if we value those roles. The burden of childcare still falls to many women, often by choice, but this can also create perceived barriers to their career advancement or their ability to have agency over themselves and their own choices.
Very often the female’s wage is seen as the ‘second income’ for a family – or the ‘little job’ as many women refer to it, so it becomes a gender issue for a couple of reasons, but most notably because in our society like most others, the idea of women as primary care givers of children reinforces the idea of a gendered role for women. Of course, both men and women can look after children, but way back in about 1890 in Australia the start of wage inequality happened with policies developed specifically to discourage women from re entering the workforce. Some of this lead to the separation of roles (market separation) and the feminizing of parts of the workforce. Once a part of the work effort became feminized and primarily performed by women, the wage could be lowered and these female workers could be paid much less than men – since it was believed that they could only ever make a small contribution to the family income because it was well known at the time (by the men making the policy) that men were the ‘breadwinners’.
Around this time, 1907 (the Harvester Judgement), the then President of the Australian Arbitration Court, Henry Borne Higgins devised the “living wage’ that was based on what he determined to be the minimum amount required for a man with a wife and 3 children to “keep himself and his family in frugal comfort” (MacIntyre 1985, pg; 55). Mr Justice Higgins based his calculations on his expectation that all adults would marry, and that men were always the primary wage earners. This is important because some of that thinking is alive and well in the minds of our policy makers today.
Most notable being ex Australian Prime Minister John Howard who put many women offside because of his strong views about a woman’s place in the home. Current Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott often expresses similar views and consequently women have to constantly fight legislation that tries to erode their ability to work outside the home. The most obvious place that this happens is in the cost of childcare. For a average young family in Australia where the male earns a take home pay of $600, the second income, usually the female’s is capped at around $400 take home (after tax). Anything over this means that they lose any child care subsidy that they currently have, meaning that for the female to go back to full time work, they need to earn a substantial income to cover the costs of full time childcare which can be anything from $80+ per day. When you start to do the sums, she is almost better to stay at home, which some believe is the purpose of the policy. I wouldn’t like to say that, however there are issues with this way of creating policy that I think is pretty shortsighted and entrenched in the patriarchal and religious belief’s of less enlightened times.
Another problem for single mothers is that this same system can just encourage a cash economy as they struggle to get a second income to try and get ahead. Whilst they are stuck in low paying, casual jobs, many of them are losing their skill currency and this is what is costing our economy money, because they are not working to their full potential. Many are lost to their earlier careers, often finding it hard to get back into the same employment after taking time out for child care, meaning that the valuable input of talented women is being lost to our organisations and ultimately our economy.
MacIntyre, Stuart (1985) ‘A fair wage’ in Winners and Losers: The Pursuit of Social Justice in Australian History, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, Ch.3, pp. 51-58 (excerpt)
United Nations Statistics Division (2010), ‘The Worlds Women, Trends and Statistics’, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, ST/ESA/STAT/SER.K/19,United Nations publication,Sales No. E.10.XVII.11 downloaded 5/04/2013, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/Worldswomen/WW_full%20report_color.pdf
- Gender Equality in the Workplace Increases Productivity (business2community.com)
- The Surprising Relationship Between Gender Equality and Economic Development (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Announcing the launch of Atria, Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History (winenetworkeurope.wordpress.com)
- Geena Davis, Academy Award-winning Actress and United Nations Special Envoy for Women and Girls, Speaks on ‘Gender Equality in Modern Media’ at Scripps College (prweb.com)
- Australia’s role in global gender equality – ABC Online (blog) (blogs.abc.net.au)
Original article published in Gas Today Thursday, 2 August 2012
Thu, 2 August 2012
Australian Women in Resource Alliance (AWRA) Project Officer Marie Henry says that developing a greater level of workforce diversity has become a priority for employers embracing the great opportunities and challenges within Australia’s evolving energy sector.
“The country’s top six gas projects alone have a capital expenditure of more than $154 billion and the industry is reporting the shortage of professional and skilled workers could double by the end of this year,” she says.
To meet this challenge, resource industry employer group AMMA is facilitating AWRA. This part federally-funded initiative has a very clear objective: to boost the resources industry’s skilled workforce through the increased attraction and retention of women.
Ms Henry says “While women represent 45 per cent of the total Australian workforce, they make up just 16 per cent of the resource industry. This unfavourable figure has seen a number of industry stakeholders and academics unite under the AWRA banner to increase the representation of women in resources to 25 per cent by 2020.
“It may seem an ambitious goal, but we believe this can be achieved through the widespread implementation of workplace policies and procedures that both promote the employment opportunities abundant in the industry and ensure our workplaces cater to a gender diverse workforce.”
AWRA says that its Way Forward Paper is the first step in creating awareness of the economic benefits of gender diverse workforces.
The paper outlines how AWRA can facilitate the appropriate cultural change and promote best practice workplace policies to increase the participation of women in gas, mining and oil roles.
In coming months AWRA will also release its various Way Forward guides, which address a range of workplace practices and specific policies that will help our industry achieve this goal.
“Through support of the AWRA initiative, we can better promote the gas sector as an attractive career pathway for women and start making some real progress towards meeting our workforce needs,” says Ms Henry.
Australian Minerals and Mining Association website
Get women back to work to prop up economy
- by: JESSICA IRVINE
- From: The Advertiser
- November 27, 2012 11:00PM
Getting women back to work is good for our economy. Source: Supplied
GETTING more women back to work and further up the career ladder is key to boosting the economy, writes Jessica Irvine.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce is one classy lady and a role model for young women everywhere. Speaking yesterday at the launch of the federal gender watchdog’s latest census of women in leadership, 69-year-old Ms Bryce, rocking in a skirt suit of the hottest pink you can imagine, shared her memory of life before the women’s movement.
It’s worth recalling here:
“I’m a girl of the ’60s,” Ms Bryce began. “A time when women in jobs were clustered in a narrow range of occupations.
“Marriage meant resignation. Pay was two thirds of men’s. No maternity leave. No childcare. No role models. No mentors. Little access to superannuation or higher education. There were separate job ads for women and girls, men and boys.
“I was shocked to see only one woman scholar on campus at University of Queensland and to learn that I would have to leave work when I was married. It’s no wonder women started to take action.”
Ms Bryce’s story shows how far we have come. But, as she points out, it is not nearly far enough.
Decades on, women remain shut out of the corridors of power. Despite some high-profile examples of women in politics and civic life, like our Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Ms Bryce, men continue to dominate the business world.
Of Australia’s upper 500 companies listed on the stock exchange, just 12 were headed by women at the time of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace’s 2012 census. That has since dropped to 10. That’s 2 per cent of companies headed by women.
Worse still, at the key senior executive level the feeder for future CEOs two thirds of the the top 500 companies have no women.
It must be a depressing picture for the firebrands of the 1960s and 1970s. It is certainly a wake-up call for their daughters and granddaughters of how much more work we have to do.
As our firebrand Ms Bryce put it yesterday: “Why do the new generation of 20 to 30-something women who are better educated than their male colleagues continue to earn less, labour in lower status positions and struggle to juggle the demands of childcare and work?”
Because it’s not just our top executive women who are struggling. Figures for the entire economy show Australia’s female workforce participation rate, at 59 per cent of working-aged women, is lower than our international counterparts.
In New Zealand the percentage is much higher at 72 per cent. In the UK it is 69 per cent.
Boosting the status of women at work is not just a moral but an economic imperative.
In a pre-recorded message to yesterday’s lunch, the boss of ANZ, Mike Smith, made the point: “Gender diversity is not only about equity, it also makes good business sense. It’s really as simple as that.”
See the rest of the story here
- We’ve come so far but there’s a long way to go (thepunch.com.au)
- Older women are the nation’s great untapped resource | Jackie Ashley (guardian.co.uk)
I will be Speaking at PMIQ Chapter Meeting & Christmas Drinks – Brisbane December 12, 2012 on the topic “What is Gender Economics and Diversity Economics and how will it affect Executive Managers and Project Managers”
|Gender Economics and Diversity Economics are emerging fields of study, and with so many nations in economic distress the pressure is on to tap into new resources and ways of thinking. Organisations are looking for new and innovative ways to progress and create shareholder value and as the available workforce changes organisations need to transform at an increased pace, and managers must develop new skills to manage these complex environments. Susanne’s research “The profit impact of organisational gender Diversity programs” will compare Gender Diversity Program frameworks for effectiveness, and identify and evaluate linkages to organizational profitability.In Susanne’s opinion, Gender Economics is the new Business Transformation, the next major resource, and will open a channel to increased innovation and creativity through Diversity of Thought and the ability to maximise the management of these complex environments.Whether you are a projet/program/portfolio manager, or a C level executive, join us as we hear Susanne talking about Gender Economics as the new Business Transformation, the next major resource, that will open a channel to increased innovation and creativity through Diversity of Thought and the ability to maximise the management of complex environments.For more information about the research go to https://gendereconomics.com/2012/10/16/diversity-economics-research-the-profit-impact-of-organisational-gender-diversity-programs/
Venue: Tattersall’s in the Tattersall’s Arcade, corner Queen and Creek Streets in Brisbane.
Dress Code: Please remember the business dress code for Tattersall’s: Jacket and tie with ‘ladies equivalent’; no denim please. Tattersall’s does enforce this dress code.
Date: Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Cost: PMIQ Members: Free. Guests are welcome: $10 inc GST
“As part of a Paediatric Education Program across Developing Countries, I was asked to present on Gender Diversity to a group of Doctors who are in positions of Leadership in their medical systems. To ensure I captured the important points, I researched the gender issues and statistics in each country and also challenged them to make gender diversity their strategic vision. Their mission will be to make their own workforces more indicative of their population spread and ultimately more productive.
In developing countries, these issues are much harder to address and gain acceptance, as many of their laws, cultures and customs do not currently support any type of gender diversity. But the good news is that small steps forward are being made daily and the future looks bright. The paper was received with optimism by the audience and gratefulness for highlighting these issues.”
About the author – Pam Dell
Pam is an Associate with AltusQ, Pam Dell works across Australasia within multiple organisations enabling them to become more productive by engaging their most valuable asset – people.
Her strengths lie in being able to help teams agree a vision and then lead them to deliver quantifiable results.
Her skills have been honed and tested over the last 25 years in multiple corporate environments from finance to IT, with the last decade spent in IBM. Pam’s success as a Global Manager of a large IBM IT Division culminated in her recognition her as a TOP 25 IBM ANZ Manager in 2012.
She has built up deep experience in influencing policy and change in matrix environments. She is highly skilled in engaging diverse cultures and stakeholders to solve problems with a flair for business planning and development.
As well as her role with AltusQ, she is currently the Strategic Lead for Women in ICT Australia (WICTA) http://www.fitt.org.au/, an incorporated association which promotes the interests of women working in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in Australia.