Monday, March 09, 2009

International Women's Day

My place of work organised a presentation and morning tea to celebrate IWD once again this year. Our speaker was Dr. Rae Cooper from Sydney University and her topic was Women, education and economic independence.

Its not a pleasant picture and we still haven't achieved our 'room of one's own and 500 pounds a year' as described by Virginia Woolf in her series of lectures given at Newnham and Girton Colleges at Cambridge University in 1928.

Here's my dot points from Dr. Coopers talk and when I get a link to the presentation I'll post it.

  • Girls are more more likely to go to Y12 than boys and while there is a lot of noise about boys underachieving, boys still do better once they get onto workforce - Rae displayed this rather salient cartoon 'ok guys we fall behind now but get to run the whole world later'

  • Girls who leave before completing their HSC are less likely to get work than boys, and if they do get work, it will be for less pay

  • Higher eduction participation is very gendered and young women choose teaching , social work, nursing, social studies, all the lower paid professions. 

  • Once in their fields of work, men still hold the jobs of power, e.g. more men are principals and head teachers, even though they are far less men represented in either primary (34%) or secondary (43%) teaching.

  • Universities also mirror this gender inequality, more men are ASPROs or Professors than women

  • Women's research topics are less well funded than men's

  • 45% of the Australian employed population are women, yet the gender pay gap has not changed since 1992, that's 25 years of no change

  • More women are found in the lowest payed, least secure jobs and they have poorer job prospects in these areas

  • Family responsibilities mean more women work part time and in casual jobs and are therefore less secure and have less chance of advancement as part-time and casual work is usually fairly low down in the work hierarchy scale. Also these jobs tend to have bad working conditions, ill-treatment and are often un-unionised

  • Work and family market - Harvester 'in frugal comfort' is failing as both partners must work to survive but this isn't acknowledge by the law makers

  • Many women are the working poor

  • Gender entitlements gap - gap between men's wages is better

  • Women in governance and management - is actually going backwards and last year Australia fell backwards behind the first world

  • Where women are given high profile jobs they are more often than not 'Behind the glass cliff', i.e. women get given jobs that have a high level of risk attached to them and have high failure rates


  1. Thanks for this post--some really interesting info, particularly the 'glass cliff' point. As a newcomer to Australia I'm still getting a handle on the gender situation, so all good to know.

  2. Glad it was useful Roving Lemon (love that name), its all rather depressing though, its a sad indictment that in 2009 things are still in such a state as this.