Get women back to work to prop up economy by: JESSICA IRVINE From: The Advertiser November 27, 2012 11:00PM

Get women back to work to prop up economy

 

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Women at work

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.

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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 the only girl from my school to go to university. There were a handful of us in law school.

“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

REFERENCES:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/get-women-back-to-work-to-prop-up-economy/story-e6freon6-1226525196663?sv=bd98d9ea564311b15ae4417dc5afc056

 

Remarks at the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit

Secretary Clinton: September 2011 » Remarks at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit

an exerpt from the transcript;

“Now as this summit comes to a close, we will adopt a declaration for the first time in APEC’s history that will affirm this organization’s and each member economy’s commitment to improving women’s access to capital and markets, to building women’s capacities and skills, and to supporting the rise of women leaders in both the public and private sectors. And it is fitting that this declaration would be adopted here in San Francisco because it was just one mile from here, in the Herbst Theater, where the United Nations Charter was signed 66 years ago. In fact, the APEC Summit, which brings you all here is a celebration of that important occasion and a recognition that history is made right here in San Francisco. Because San Francisco is an appropriate venue for this economic discussion. Because this is a community that is renowned for its spirit of inclusion and opportunity for all. So on behalf of the United States and our people I give each of you, and you nations, my heartiest welcome and my heartfelt thanks for being here and undertaking this great mission with us.

Now there will be a temptation on the part of those observing or covering this summit, perhaps on the part of those of us attending it as well, to say that our purpose is chiefly to advance the rights of women, to achieve justice and equality on women’s behalf. And that is, of course, a noble cause to be sure and one that is very close to my heart. But at the risk of being somewhat provocative at the outset, I believe our goal is even bolder, one that extends beyond women to all humankind. The big challenge we face in these early years of 21st century is how to grow our economies and ensure shared prosperity for all nations and all people. We want to give every one of our citizens, men and women alike, young and old alike, greater opportunity to find work, to save and spend money, to pursue happiness ultimately to live up to their own God-given potentials.

That is a clear and simple vision to state. But to make it real, to achieve the economic expansion we all seek, we need to unlock a vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come. And that vital source of growth is women. With economic models straining in every corner of the world, none of us can afford to perpetuate the barriers facing women in the workforce. Because by increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can bring about a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies. Because when everyone has a chance to participate in the economic life of a nation, we can all be richer. More of us can contribute to the global GDP. And the gap between the developed and the developing countries would narrow significantly as productivity rises in economies from Haiti to Papua New Guinea.”

Remarks at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/09/172605.htm