Article written by Susanne Moore – The Centre for Gender Economics 1 November 2013

Gender Economics is the fusion of sociology, economics and gender studies and looks at shifting current perceptions of gender and how we use these perceptions in framing economic policy. Very often, it is an intersection of gender, values and beliefs that create policy decisions, many of which are based on outdated models. It is important that we start to understand how economic research is conducted, how the statistical analysis is created and how this flows into policy decisions and ultimately the business bottom line.

“Gender Economics is about “dissecting and creating a new discourse around economic theory that fuses Economics, Gender and Sociology”[1]

Think of a persistent organisational challenge and start to unpick it by looking at the assumptions and environments that created the challenge in the first place, chances are the core of the challenge has been created by imposing outdated business models, values and measurements that no longer work.  Then reframe the challenge by applying new thought paradigms and you may very likely uncover innovations that lead to increases in performance.  Traditional gender stereotypes have shifted and organisations can no longer assume that they are catering to the working heterosexual white male with a wife at home because the ground rules have changed.  According to Wikipedia[2], the US LGBT consumer market in 2013 ‘is estimated to have an overall buying power of more than $835 billion’.  This demonstrates that marketing to this group requires specialisation to reap the benefits of that economy.

Much of our business culture is centuries old from the structures to the drivers, and our organisations must change to keep pace with a global economy where diversity, and cross-cultural management enforce new skills around managing complexity.

In 2009, the Harvard Business Review[3] made the bold statement that “Women now drive the world economy”, and estimated that globally women will control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending over the next five years.  Look at any social networking site or news stream and you will see articles that recognise that the financial empowerment of women is a game changer.  Businesses must now attract talent from a wider pool, some from necessity, but many recognising that by developing a “Women’s Employer of Choice” reputation, it will ultimately help them increase their competitiveness in the market.  However, it is not as simple as painting women’s issues with a ‘pink’ brush,  organisations must understand the shifts that have taken place in gendered stereotypes and how this sociological change now affects business structures and changes in economic policy formation.

Gender Economics looks at how gender influences economic decisions and how those decisions impact gender.  The way we target gender for economic gain or increased market share can either benefit or degrade the rights of marginalised groups, often leading to policy formation with an underlying gender bias overlaid with a view on how economics, policy and gender interact with society.

This emerging field challenges current economic theory, broadening the conversation to encompasses sociological complexities currently at play in society – ie: we look to deconstruct economic policy, reconstructing it in a manner that allows us to develop rational and objective tracks for further research.  Issues of female inequality have persisted for decades if not centuries and instead of talking about the issues, Gender Economics explores underneath the issue and provides new discourses that have the power to change the way we work and live.  A simple example of Gender Economics and a persistent issue is the gender wage gap in Australia that continues regardless of the amount of effort and talk that goes on.  In 1907 Australia passed a little known policy known as the “Harvester Judgement[4] that saw the start of the pay gap for women in preference to that of the ‘working family man’.  This policy was introduced primarily to give organisations a competitive advantage using cheaper female labour.  This precedent continues today with feminised work segments in organisations exploiting cheaper labour, focusing on scarcity instead of the abundance of leveraging that diversity through innovation[5].

Much of our business culture is centred on the concept of scarcity, of not enough to go around but where did this thinking process start?  Staying competitive by having unique products that differentiate you from the rest of the marketplace can lead to a culture of aggressive competition and cost cutting.  With more organisations becoming lean and agile what if the model moved from one of scarcity to one of ‘abundance’.  What are the attributes of abundance, is it just a mind shift or can we create business models that promote it?  Numerous studies of company board makeup show that the accepted female attributes of sharing and collaboration lead to a richer business environment and higher profits.

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 our increasingly complex environments.  Organisations that understand that gender balance is the new competitive edge will be better equipped in a global marketplace where women take their place at the decision table.  An increased awareness of women’s economic impact at a country level and greater gender diversity at a company level means women are learning to invest in themselves and their financial future.

There are many persistent gender issue’s that just don’t seem to go away and this is particularly true in areas of gender inequality, and I feel that this is because we so often talk ‘around’ the issues instead of deconstructing them and understanding why they are issues in the first place.  The next steps are to start unpicking current thinking on economics and business, start reframing our thinking, putting age-old issues into new contexts – that is Gender Economics at its core!

[1] Quote by Susanne Moore 2013

[4] 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)

[5] Diversity Program Review Framework™, Susanne Moore (2012)

AWRA answers call for gender diversity

Original article published in Gas Today Thursday, 2 August 2012

AWRA answers call for gender diversity

Thu, 2 August 2012

The Australian Women in Resource Alliance helping the growing gas sector meet its skilled workforce needs through building greater gender diversity.

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.


Gas Today – http://gastoday.com.au/news/awra_answers_call_for_gender_diversity/076692/

Australian Minerals and Mining Association website

“Transformation Is Possible: Moving Feminist Economics into Policies and Institutions”

Dr Caren Grown

Dr Caren Grown

Gendering the Social Sciences: a Gender Institute public lecture

Date: Thursday 14 February 2013
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speaker: Dr Caren Grown

Caren Grown will speak about the role of feminist economics in shaping economic development policy, drawing out opportunities, constraints, and contradictions. She will develop examples from her research in the areas of economic growth and trade, public finance, and asset ownership and poverty, and her experience with various UN institutions, the multilateral development banks and bilateral donors. see more here



What is Gender Economics and Diversity Economics and how will it affect Executive Managers and Project Managers

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”

alt 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

Time: 05:45 PM to 08:00 PM 05:45 PM Refreshments for a 06:00 PM start

Cost: PMIQ  Members: Free.  Guests are welcome: $10 inc GST

Capacity: 100

For more details and to book for the PMIQ Event


Presentation on Gender Diversity by Pam Dell, Associate with AltusQ

“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.


The CEO Challenge: Managing a complex and diverse resource group in a global environment.

At the moment I am participating in a discussion on The CEO Network – the source for Chief Executives.  It is a LinkedIn Group and the discussion is about a question asked on the forum “Diversityhas been accused of being divisive and creating reverse discrimination.  Do you agree?”

Many of the respondents felt that diversity was divisive and many spent sometime refuting any of it’s positives, particularly that diversity does provide greater company performance.  Many said that people should be judged on talent alone, “The main criteria should always be tilted towards talent and ability” which is very true, however this does not allow for those that find barriers to the entry of roles that will allow them to display their talent.  Simply getting a job is difficult for some as a result of their gender, their colour, their race or ethnicity.  Some said that diversity was not their priority, they had managed fine without it,“living by, or caring about “diversity” in any form is just something that has never been an issue that I’ve ever had to have a hand in…” and that good living, caring about others and basically being sensible was all that was required to succeed.  For many white anglo-saxon men, diversity has never been an issue, because to be a white anglo-saxon man was to be at the top of the executive pile, it was (and still is in many cases) where the action is, where the rules are made and where the big deals are done.  I also believe that diversity can be divisive both not for the some reasons as I have quoted above.  I think it is divisive because it is change and, diversity and the recognition of difference can stir up feelings in people that they don’t want to confront.  It can bring to the forefront racist and sexist views and it can make some people feel threatened, insecure and left with a feeling that they are being treated unfairly.  However, I think that this is just a stage in the change cycle and with communication, education and some patience the divisiveness gives way to acceptance and recognition of the value of difference.
One vocal respondent in the discussion says that after commissioning many studies, there is still no clear link between gender diversity and increased company performance and he goes so far as to say that “We’ve (his organisation) challenged dozens of organisations and hundreds of individuals to provide evidence of a causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards and enhanced corporate performance, and not a single robust study has ever been forthcoming. We generally find correlation misrepresented as causation.”
That is currently the case from my research at least, but as my response below alludes, that doesn’t mean that “the world is indeed flat” and there is nothing else.
Throughout the discussion there were many arguing the case for diversity and this comment from a business man in Australia is one of the stand outs;
“I am very interested that (from this discussion) the UK and US have not had the excellent results we have found in Australia from hiring the best. I note here that a measurement of the best of leadership (Boards and corporate) clearly shows that having diversity, on average, supports out performance of those companies which do not.Perhaps this is the root cause of our current fiscal position in comparison to the other continents.”
We in Australia are too small in population not to embrace diversity, it is vital for our economic survival, we must ultilise every person resource to keep pace in a global economy.  Yet, we still lag behind in gender equality and don’t recognize our indigenous population as well as we could so there are still many barriers to overcome when it comes to promoting on ‘talent’ alone.  If there are barriers to you gaining an education, or losing valuable career building time because your gender requires that you keep the population going by having and rearing children then you will not be part of the available talent no matter how good you are.
 I made a number of comments via LinkedIn but have only put my final LinkedIn response below as the others would have required me to copy the other discussion items which I have not done for the privacy of the group.

“Susanne Moore • Mike and others, I am currently researching the Impact on Profit of Gender Diversity Programs. Just because no one has been able to prove a causal link doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean that one does exist. You can see more about the research here. https://gendereconomics.com/2012/10/16/diversity-economics-research-the-profit-impact-of-organisational-gender-diversity-programs/.

What I do know is that the world has changed and CEO’s (and I was also one of those) do need to manage a complex and diverse resource group in a global environment. You only need to look at outsourcing to India and the Philippines to know that things have changed and managers need to understand how to manage that diversity. Does this make good economic sense and increase bottom line profit? It must otherwise we are foolish to continue with the outsourcing scenario. My area is Gender Diversity (meaning both genders) but diversity that we are talking about here is much broader so it shouldn’t be confused with misogyny, racism and bigotry. Of course, no company can spend money on fruitless social experiments, we need to make money and keep progressing. Image a world where only the educated were in power, where we limited education to children of certain gender and ethnicity (and this is currently happening), we don’t know what potentially brilliant new ideas we are missing out on. Much of the diversity debate at a social level is about providing access to those potentially talented resources that would not be found unless there was a more level playing field. I believe that there is an improved hit to the bottom line in terms of innovation and creativity, and a diverse way of thinking that a bunch of ‘like’ people can’t provide. If my research proves otherwise then so be it.”

I have included these comments here because I think it is important as Diversity and Gender Economists to hear the discourse around this subject.  There is clearly uncertainly and some fear that things are changing.  Understandable.  Things are changing.  We are in a diverse global economy, like it or not.  We will need to draw on all the diverse resources at hand, men, women, older workers, migrant and re-skilled workers.  We also need to learn how to manage the complex workforces that blend baby boomers and older workers with Gen X and Gen Y.  The economics are slightly different for every country, but no less complex and, in my opinion no less diverse.

Diversity Economics Research – “The profit impact of organisational gender Diversity programs”

I am doing research on “The profit impact of organisational gender Diversity program’s” and currently have completed a research proposal and am looking to work with a number of organisations to participate in the study that would be interested in working with me on completing this work. My research has indicated that there are no proven causal links between Gender Diversity Programs and organisational profitability. As part of the study I will be developing a measurement framework that can then be used to measure both the effectiveness of these programs and any causal link to profitability – I refer to this as Diversity Economics.

Executive Summary:

This study will compare Gender Diversity Program frameworks for effectiveness, and identify and evaluate linkages to organizational profitability. It will focus on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of Gender Diversity Programs (GDPs) within organisations in an effort to explore their relationship with the recruitment and retention of women in senior leadership roles. The aims and objectives of this research are;

1. To establish a link between Gender Diversity Programs and profit;

2. To develop a repeatable framework for the measurement of this effectiveness;

3. To develop benchmarks that support the framework;

4. To prove a link to organisational profitability as a starting point to further study into the impact of gender on economies, i.e.: Gender Economics1.

This research proposal is the first part of a wider study to test the theory and viability of further research into Gender Economics and Diversity Economics by first establishing a link between Gender Diversity programs and organisational profitability. Gender Economics is an emerging field of study that builds on the theories of diversity and promotes the value of gender balance, particularly in the area of innovation and creativity. It recognises the ‘direct input’ of women to the economy and extends the theory that the discipline of economics ”could be improved by freeing itself from masculine biases” (Ferber, Nelson 1993: 24). Diversity Economics focuses on the organisational economics of diversity programs and follows the concepts of Economic Diversity, ”as a way to achieve economic stability” (Wagner 1993).

The second part of the study, will take the established link between Diversity Economics and profitability further to develop quantified economic models proving the case for Gender Economics using a cost benefit analysis. This proposal only deals with the first part of the study.

[1] Gender Economics is an emerging field of study, see www.gendereconomics.com with the first annual conference being held in Madrid Spain in 2008
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My Research Proposal – “The Effectiveness (or otherwise) of organisational Gender Diversity Programs on Profit”

My research proposal

As part of my Sociology degree I have commenced a year-long research project. The subject will be on “The effectiveness (or otherwise) of organisational gender diversity program’s on profit”  to see if we can come up with some metrics and measurements for quantifying the value of a gender diverse workforce on bottom line profitability.  Diversity programs are undertaken in many organizations in a bid to attract and keep senior women in leadership and although we know there are clear advantages, much of the information is empirical or intangible and difficult to measure under current business structures.

This is the first part of the study to test the theory and viability of further research into Gender Economics and Diversity Economics.

Title What is the effectiveness (or otherwise)of organisational Diversity Programs on profit?
Summary The subject will be on the effectiveness of gender diversity programs within organisations in a bid to attract and retain senior women in leadership roles.  The first part of the study is to test the theory and viability of further research into Gender Economics and Diversity Economics.  Gender Economics recognises the ‘direct input’ of women to the economy by enabling leadership roles through diversity rather than the ‘indirect’ impact of women as consumers and supporters.I will draw on existing research into the field of diversity management and test the theories using participants in focus group’s to draw on their experience and knowledge in the areas in both implementing diversity programs, and being a recipient of diversity programs.Ideally, I am looking for a mix of men and women of different ages to form a group of six to ten people for the initial focus group session.  Over the coming year I intend to work with at least two organisations, one government and one corporate, who currently have a diversity program in place.  I aim to research and evaluate these programs to see what metrics they have put in place to measure the success of their programs.  Then I would like to tie the outcomes to economic health as an argument for the economic advantages of Gender and Diversity Economics.
Background to the Research Having worked in both corporate and government organisations, I know firsthand the challenges of managing diversity.  I have also seen the issues that result from discrimination, bias, gender stereotyping and a lack of flexibility in organisations.
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