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Some thoughts on the gender pay gap

Shannon Fentiman, QLD Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs has announced today that she supports ‘positive discrimination’ to close the gender pay gap. Ms. Fentiman said this is ‘definitely something we should have a conversation about. This has struck up a fair bit of conversation across social media. There are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned that this will cause undue discrimination for men; and that there is not really a gender pay gap to consider. Life does seem pretty fair at times, right?

I have detailed at the end of this blog post some information regarding discrimination against women in the workforce. The information below was previously sent in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, in 2013, but it appears he has made no progress on this matter and to my knowledge has not even attempted to start a conversation about this type of disparity women face.

I know there are a lot of jokes out there on social media about Abbott being the Minister for Women. It would be great if we can just stop laughing about it now; because it isn’t funny when he is stifling progress.

I have a few concerns with how we approach this issue of gender disparity in pay and the workplace:

The first issue is that it was very evident when I completed this research for the initial blog post; that Indigenous women experience more disparity than non-Indigenous women. I feel that this needs to have a specific focus from the Government.

The second issue is the high unemployment rate for Youth. Particularly in regional Queensland areas. For example, there are very limited administration opportunities in regional communities. The public sector, since the cuts from the Newman Government has seen a sharp decline in any recruitment for administration in the public sector in regional communities; particularly entry level administration. Small business has struggled since the GFC, with some improvements being noted in recent times; but small business needs a hand up to give young people employment opportunities as well. Not enabling our youth to access employment now, will increase the existing disparity for women; but also increase generational disparity for both genders in years to come.

The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men. When we view inequality, we need to view every step of the process and not just the end process of the ‘job interview’ or selection process. We need to view every step towards securing employment, rather than believing everyone is equal at every point of the process. For some who experience other social marginalization, the disparity inequity widens. This is where I feel the argument of “the best person for the job” does fall down.

In communities where there is little administration recruitment occurring and a lot of mining or laboring recruitment, it does create disparity for what women can apply for from the outset. Many women are not suited to the types of laboring or trades jobs advertised in regional QLD communities, but some women most certainly are suited. Where women are the primary care givers, it creates further hindrances to securing employment in a traditional male field. I acknowledge that there are many traditional male jobs and industries not suited to all men, and I also acknowledge that disparity exists for some men to enter into traditional female fields of employment. I also acknowledge that social disadvantages affect both genders.

Therefore, a holistic approach needs to be used to ensure that ‘equal footing’ at the point of application is achieved. This includes identifying hindrances to women and men in individual communities and tailoring Govt assistance to business, encouraging investment or examining the capital city focus of the Public Sector. In addition, the community sector lost a lot of funding in regional communities and this also needs to be looked at, to bring funding back to small local organisations, rather than granting of tender funding to larger national organisations, where most of the senior management, human resource management, accounting, administration or clerical work is done in their head office. Education and training opportunities from high school, vocational and university level also need to be scrutinized as contributors to hindrance.

The fourth issue I have is the differences between metropolitan, regional and rural communities. The Government needs to focus on individual communities, rather than Queensland as a whole to address the issues individual areas face. This goes back to my point that there are simply not the same administration and management opportunities for women in regional areas in the Public Sector as there are for women living in a capital city. No woman who wants to progress in the QLD Public Sector should have to consider moving to Brisbane to do so. This is inequity in itself.

The fifth issue I have is that we need urgent Industrial Relations reform to review the award wages attached to jobs identified as traditional women’s jobs; whilst not impacting adversely on these industries. However, this will be a challenge with a Federal Liberal Government at the helm and the length of time that these wages and industries have been seen as lesser value. This will require not only an Industrial relations change, but a cultural/societal change. This will not be an easy fix nor a quick fix.

I look forward to suggestions from readers on how we can address this issue in a positive and progressive manner.

******

For those who doubt that women experience discrimination within the workplace a pay; please view the information below:

 

Discrimination against women arising from casualisation in the workforce and high numbers working in insecure employment and
Discrimination against women through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’, and the general availability of fewer opportunities of penalties and overtime. Please note that in 2011, the gender pay gap was 17.2% for full-time workers and
Discrimination against women in the workforce, or who are job seeking who either cannot access or cannot afford childcare
    • More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability
    • Some of the lowest paid industries in Australia such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services and Retail trade tend to employ the highest proportion of female employees without paid leave entitlements (61 per cent, 48 per cent and 34 per cent respectively
    • 30 per cent of female employees who are lone parents with dependent children, are casual employees without paid leave entitlements
    • In 2012, the total cash weekly earnings by gender were $1189.00 (Men) $852.00 (Women) (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
Discrimination against women in achieving leadership and management roles and
Discrimination by default, due to under-representation in management and board positions in Australia
    • In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
    • Women account for over half of academic staff, however only 27% of women are Senior Lecturer or above.
    • 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia.
    • Women chair only two per cent of ASX200 companies (four boards), hold only 8.3% of Board Directorships, hold only four CEO positions and make up only 10.7% of executive management positions
    • In 2008, women held 5.9% of line executive management positions in ASX 200 companies; a decrease from 7.5% in 2006. Line executive management experience is considered essential for progressing to top corporate positions.
    • Women make up a third of members on Australian Government Boards and Committees.
    • Despite comprising more than half of all Commonwealth public servants, women make up only 37% of the Senior Executive Service. (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
Discrimination by default suffered by women who, as primary parental care givers, end up with reduced superannuation earnings in retirement and
Discrimination by default suffered by women, will receive less superannuation over time, through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’
    • Only 60% of Indigenous women have superannuation coverage compared to 80% of women in the general population.
    • Many women work more than one casual job across different employers and do not receive super from any individual employer, due to earning less than $450 per month.
    • The mean super balance of men earning under $5400 per year is just almost double the amount for women in the same group. (Source ASFA)
    • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.
    • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men – $37,000 compared with $110, 000.
    • In Australia, women working full-time today earn 16 per cent less than men.
    • Women also receive less super across the board, due to the gender pay gap of 17.2% (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
The under-representation of women in parliament, amounting, in the absence of any system to redress the imbalance, to discrimination

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 43/142 countries for women in national parliaments.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women. However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government. Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation. The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of female MPs.”

I would like to end this post to give thanks to the Queensland Labor Party for making history for succeeding in appointing more female Ministers than men in a Queensland Government and the first female, indigenous woman MP and Minister in a QLD Government.

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48 comments

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  1. Kaye Lee

    Trish, Linda Burney is deputy leader of the NSW Labor Party. In the Keneally ministry, she was the Minister for the State Plan and Minister for Community Services. She is of Wiradjuri descent.

  2. Trish Corry

    That is awesome. Sorry, I should change it to reflect that this is about QLD.

  3. Trish Corry

    Thanks Kaye. I have fixed that now.

  4. PennTCJ

    This is such an excellent article – so measured, and I appreciate bringing all the information together so neatly.
    I think it’s probably hard to understand what ‘persistent pressure’ means for people who haven’t been in an organisation that actually exhibits it (my experience comes from structures within Queensland Labor, where affirmative action is part of the culture pretty much from the bottom up, at least in the circles I frequent).

    I also hadn’t thought about super much, but my goodness what a good point. Working multiple casual jobs doesn’t build super, and a lot of people – particularly women, or people who are also caretakers – are in that position.

  5. stephentardrew

    Great article Trish.

    Just watched a program about Aboriginal art and recorded occupation over 350,000 years. The artwork, carvings, maps and structures were extraordinary and would not be amiss in a modern gallery today. I remember a researcher from Monash University years ago worked with, and was initiated by, the Yolongu Women discovering that dreaming, kinship, dance, art and song-lines were so complex and interwoven that they are equivalent to any system of logic we have today. Vast areas of the landscape were mapped out in these relationships. What have we done to these people? As you point out the women suffer extremes of inequality when it is often they who keep their communities together.

    The minister for inequality is doing a marvelous job of winding back social justice and equity issues for all women. Not only are women discriminated against they are now worse off, especially if the are low income, poor, disabled, aged or whatever. At least you can say the conservatives don’t discriminate when harming disenfranchised people yet when it comes to social justice forget it.

  6. diannaart

    Wishing the minister for inequality would read this – at least I get to tweet it to the reptile.

  7. Trish Corry

    Lol to no avail probably diannaart. I sent the original blog in the form of a letter (linked in this post) in 2013. It took a fair bit of harassment to get an answer. I finally received an answer via Mikaelia Cash after Senator Larissa Waters contacted me and helped me get a response.

  8. diannaart

    Well done Trish.

    At least I get the satisfaction of putting your excellent thoughts out into the twitterverse, this poor excuse for a Prime Minister may yet provide a catalyst for some real action – a lot of women are speaking out more and more, I hope it continues and gains momentum.

  9. Trish Corry

    Thanks for sharing. I love seeing the conversations happening. I need to revisit a few issues as well I have on the back burner. One is the use of social media as a selection tool in recruitment & selection. I would like to investigate whether women are affected and discriminated against more than men within this practice. My specialty is Human Resources Management and I do not support this practice at all. However, I feel that the unconscious bias affects women more than men in this regard. They spoke about unconscious bias on QandA tonight and I remembered I had started looking at that issue about two or three year ago. I have to make a note to get back to it.

  10. diannaart

    I am starting to finally get sleepy.

    Men tend to get defensive with mention of “unconscious bias” – well they get defensive whenever women question anything…. however, I agree that unconscious bias is just as much an influence on female decision making as it is for men. I would be very interested in what you may discover.

    Night, night

  11. Lee

    This is an interesting article, published last Friday. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/06/women-doctors-are-underpaid-and-undervalued-and-its-not-a-mystery-why?CMP=ema_632

    After reading that and now Trish’s article, I’m seeing so many (but not all, e.g sexual harrassment) of the inequalities stem from women being the primary carers at home. How many men have a high powered career, working long hours, and still manage to look after the kids, spend quality time with them, help them with their homework, take them to sport/school/music lessons/whatever and attend the school sports days? How many men who do reduce their work hours so they can spend more time with their families have a high powered career? They tend to be overlooked for promotion and senior roles in the workplace. Why are we still buying into the myth that men have it all and therefore women can have it all too? We’re trying to build on a faulty foundation and it is creating a lot of angst.

    Trish mentioned the inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous women. I don’t think that is an issue confined to women. There’s a glaring inequality on so many levels between indigenous and non-indigenous people, period.

    Issues such as poor education, low income and disability affect men as well as women. I don’t see the need to dress up the problems as gender specific. Addressing those issues for men as well will have a flow on effect to improved quality of life for the women and children in their lives.

    As for more women in parliament, I don’t think a parliament full of Julie Bishops and Michaelia Cashes is going to help the situation at all. It doesn’t help anyone to place women in occupations based solely upon their gender. I’d much rather have a parliament full of Scott Ludlams.

  12. Trish Corry

    Lee you have missed some very valid points in my blog post where I have discussed inequality for both genders and social disadvantage. I do not believe I have only focused on women and ignored men, or other complexities such as social disadvantage. There is a need to address the gender specifics, as if you viewed the evidence at the end of the post, there is a widening gap and specific issues which are particular to women. Considering both Julie Bishop and Mikaela Cash to not consider themselves feminists (one who works to correct for the political, social and economic disadvantages for women), why would you name them? There are many other women in the political sphere who do great work and a number of growing male politicians, particularly Tim Watts and his work with domestic violence. I don’t view the solution as a them or us attitude as reflected in your comment. I prefer a holistic approach.

  13. kasch2014

    My comment didn’t seem to get up, so I try again – this whole issue is irrelevant now. The big earners in all professions are fraudulently taking ten times + as much as they are worth, regardless of gender/ sex / whatever, whatever is the alienated, politically correct crappology.

    Most marketing/accounting/economics/political professionals have disappeared so far up their own professional peer group identity/ support / vested interest group, they have no ralationshiop to anything but their own security illusion/ bank account, etc. Educational institutions perpetuate the illusions which have grown out of this setting for generations until “professionals” have imbued themselves (and have been used as such) with papal infallibilty and have proceeded to screw up the world most handsomely from an unassailable “expert” position, having lost track completely from their relationaship with the actual life support system, and thus reality in the material world.

    To these folks the material world is represented by money, which is immaterial, that is, not a resource, and thus lots of un-productive individuals are fighting over a bigger share of a shrinking cake. The spiritual (that which is the universe) realm’s existence is replaced with new age, fashionable ethics that change weekly with peer group loyalties in a world largely populated by identity-challenged, unfulfilled elderly teenagers.

    The only fair income structure in our time is the age pension – we all get the same – true freedom, and you can still contribute if you’re able. Or motivated. Maybe meet extra expenses incurred when performing your duties. You are free to focus on quality of service, relationships with other humans, and lifestyle. I worked like that for years, and still have a network of friends and aquaintances who greet and respect me. I would do it again now if allowed – but the institution I worked with / for closed me out because I was a threat to the professional, sarlaried people there through the effectiveness of my service, and through not increasing the income of the institution. Six months after I left on a cycling holiday, the place shut down under a cloud of financial corruption and mis-management. See Community College East Gippsland.

    But whatever happens, all this stuff is no longer important – it’s just a distraction from the real issue of our time – survival of as many people as possible with a good quality of life and a survivable standard of living. All else is tragic self-absorbtion (the major ailment of outr time) and detracts from the real game.

  14. stephentardrew

    Oops that was 35,000 years not 350,000. Sort of got a bit exaggerated dummy.

  15. jimhaz

    Folk who work in ‘traditional women’s industries’ need to unionise and get strong by the use of numbers.

    If they don’t, bad luck.

    In regards the other matters, I’ve not really witnessed an average equality of ambition and risk taking, so I discount those issues.

  16. Lee

    “Lee you have missed some very valid points in my blog post where I have discussed inequality for both genders and social disadvantage. I do not believe I have only focused on women and ignored men, or other complexities such as social disadvantage.”

    Trish, I’m not saying that you have totally missed those issues. But you do women no favours when you dress up issues as gender specific when they are not.

    “This goes back to my point that there are simply not the same administration and management opportunities for women in regional areas in the Public Sector as there are for women living in a capital city. No woman who wants to progress in the QLD Public Sector should have to consider moving to Brisbane to do so. This is inequity in itself.”

    There are limited opportunities for men to progress in the public sector in rural areas too.

    “Considering both Julie Bishop and Mikaela Cash to not consider themselves feminists (one who works to correct for the political, social and economic disadvantages for women), why would you name them?”

    I named them due to statements like this:

    “This is where I feel the argument of “the best person for the job” does fall down.”

    “I would like to end this post to give thanks to the Queensland Labor Party for making history for succeeding in appointing more female Ministers than men in a Queensland Government ”

    I don’t consider myself to meet your definition of a feminist either. I seek correction to political, social and economic disadvantages for everyone, regardless of gender.

    Just taking one example, child care, perhaps there would be more support for it if the case was presented in terms of the benefits it provides to men and families as well, rather than presenting it as a gender specific issue. Also look at the problems for shift workers accessing child care.

    I also agree with a lot of kasch2014’s comments. Materialism/consumerism is underlying a lot of these problems where lack of education, disability and sole parent families are not a factor. So too is the myth that we can “have it all”.

  17. Trish Corry

    Ok I will just leave it that you are one of those people who simply cannot consider any disparity for women, just in case ‘we aren’t talking about men.’ We do not always have to talk about men, when we talk about issues for women. Once again, I have acknowledge social disadvantage as part of the problem.

  18. Lee

    “We do not always have to talk about men, when we talk about issues for women.”

    Suit yourself. Successful salespeople present their wares by showing the buyer how it will benefit them personally. By not including men, you’re losing the very people you need to get on board.

  19. Lee

    “Folk who work in ‘traditional women’s industries’ need to unionise and get strong by the use of numbers.”

    Teachers’ and nurses’ unions are very strong. They get bigger pay rises as a percentage of their salary than many other occupations.

  20. stephentardrew

    Evolution is not concerned with discrimination it drives a process of competitive advantage however, when societies of organisms become large and complex, it becomes an absolute necessity for them to cooperate. So reciprocity, kinship, communitarianism, empathy (in the guise of mirror neurons) and self-reference allow sentient beings to reflect upon their actions and reinforce a more caring and just society. It is then possible to trace the causal contributors to life recognising that rampant injustice and exploitation eventually leads to environmental degradation, suffering on a massive scale and possibly extinction. The crazy thing is that science is much more amenable to promotion of ethical goods and moral obligations while misinterpretation of nominal choice through absurd beliefs in free will leads to rampant judgment, blame and retribution based upon magical, mythical and religious stories that have their foundation in ignorance and lack of scientific evidence of facts. In essence if you reject facts for subjective projection and subconscious visceral drives propelled by fight/flight and pleasure/pain imperatives then obviously humans will misinterpret the drive to intelligence, community and exploration of the causal facts. Thus upon realising people do not create their realities, including hereditary, environment, familial, religions, political and ideological circumstances, we can then find ways to enhance justice, equity and utility with the goal of producing sustainable and just societies.

    Our visceral fears become irrational subconscious drives while our innate intelligence allows us to choose to dampen down primitive reactivity through rational exploration of the facts. Most people want to be loved, they want happiness security and some sort of materially sustainable life replete with a sense of self-worth. So if most of us want security and happiness then why can’t we work towards the security and happiness of all others by choosing not to judge and blame but to understand the driving compulsion of primal subconscious fears and their impact upon those who suffer through no fault of their own. It does not mean there will not be accountably for actions it means that accountability must take into consideration the causal, non-ideological contributors to social dysfunction, cruelty, war and general poverty and inequality.

    In short if we embrace the simple axiom “to do unto others and least harm” we will strive to eliminate injustice an inequality. Nevertheless it requires we divest ourselves of primitive visceral subconscious fears and choose to construct a more equal and just world. It matters not whether one is a religious, agnostic, atheist or other than, if we embrace justice and equity then our actions will converge on a more sustainable and caring society however to do this we must face the facts that all children are born innocent and its is the initial conditions of life, not choice, which shapes their opportunities.

    We have been given the opportunity to reflect upon our wishes, hopes and desires and if they converge then we should simply strive to find the best way to bring about happiness and physical security for all and not suffering and hardship. To impose suffering on others through some magical belief in irrational dogmatic authority and ideological absolutism is immoral, cruel irrational and irrevocably unjust.

    I personally choose a loving and kind world of rational understanding and compassionate participation because I don’t want to be part of this greed infested disjointed religious ideology of survival of the greediest. Evolution is demonstrating that the greediest are not the fittest.

    Bit long however the issues demand lengthy consideration.

  21. Trish Corry

    Once again Lee I have addressed men in my article. I don’t need to continuously address you belief I have not. This happens nearly every single time we talk about women’s issues and it turns into a conversation about men. If others want to talk about men relating to a pay gap for women that is their free choice. I do not want to participate in a discussion about men at this point. I’m more interested in how we can address these issues for women.

  22. townsvilleblog

    The only gender discrimination I ever experienced was against men, in favor of women, and race discrimination against an Islander man, who was openly discriminated against by the said woman.

  23. Trish Corry

    Fighting against CSG is never off topic

  24. diannaart

    @CMMC

    Standing up to bullies is always a necessity.

  25. Jack

    You cannot discriminate in favour of any individual without discriminating against another individual.

  26. Trish Corry

    Is that a general reflection Jack? Or is there something in particular in the blog post you are referring to?

  27. Lee

    Probably this: “The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men. ”

    Positive discrimination is a fancy alternative for tokenism. I don’t want a pity job. I want one based on my abilities and merits.

  28. Trish Corry

    Any thoughts regarding the solutions I presented so it does not result in tokenism?

  29. Lee

    Rather than appoint someone based upon their gender, I’d iike to see a change in the way we structure job roles. For example, I have a friend in Colorado who works from home, doing the payroll for a hospital in Arizona. Her husband works away from home during the week and only comes home at weekends and she has a toddler to care for. My friend can work around her home life very easily and in some cases having employees working from home is cheaper than having them come into an office. These types of jobs could also suit people with some types of disabilities who need to take frequent breaks from their work. It could also provide employment to people in rural areas. It would probably benefit more women than men since more women are the primary carers at home and women have a greater tendency than men to seek employment that fits in better with their family commitments. But suitably qualified/experienced men should not be overlooked based upon their gender.

  30. Trish Corry

    Lee, your thoughts are around that all women are the primary care giver. Gender disparity in pay does not only affect women with children. Women with children do face more complexities and hindrances than women without children; but there are other factors that result in gender disparity for all women. The hot desking or working from home or work-life balance strategies have been around for a long time, but do not address the needs of every role in the workforce. Some companies do not have the scope in policy to implement them or monitor this working style as well. With devolution to the line in HR, rather than HR strategists being employed in organisations, this is a flow on effect problem. In addition, work-life balance strategies are not the panacea to gender disparity in the workplace, nor in pay.

    However, you have drawn a question from the article in the initial comment and referred to positive discrimination as tokenism., but are not addressing the points raised. You referred to this point as tokenism. Do you have any comments on the suggestions in the blog post, regarding implementing strategies so that it is not tokenism. Do you believe that women and men are equal in all points of progress up to and including writing of the application or applying for the job?

  31. Lee

    Forgive me Trish. When you asked for “some” thoughts I had no idea you expected me to devote hours of my day compiling a list of every conceivable situation that could apply to women.

    Yes working from home is not new. I’m still seeing plenty of jobs in the public service where it could apply but currently doesn’t.

    At the moment I am unable to think of a reason why men and women cannot be equal at all stages of applying for a job.

    A significant contributor to pay disparity is the type of job. High risk jobs do and should pay more. The people doing those jobs are more likely to face some form of disability at a younger age, with associated costs.

    My workplaces have always paid the same to both genders. The disparity commonly seen by myself and friends in public and private sectors is that a lazy person receives the same pay as a hardworking person.

    Where pay disparity really does apply to gender only, it is wrong and does not require positive discrimination to address.

    I have answered your questions. You choose to see disagreement with your opinion as refusal to answer your questions. You haven’t actually put forward any solutions either.

  32. Trish Corry

    Lee u was responding to your comment stating positive discrimination is tokenism. Now you claim to be giving comments in general. I think it’s a fair call I’m confused by your comments

  33. Trish Corry

    I had no expectation of you to compile such a list Lee. I’m not sure how you arrived at that conclusion. In essence, there are more factors that contribute to pay disparity and job entry than you acknowledge here. One being social conditioning of gender roles. Do you consider that a factor in career choice for women?

  34. Lee

    It is for some women. It wasn’t for me. I’ve always pursued sciences and mathematics. My first three jobs after leaving school were in traditional male roles. I was the first female appointed in one of those. My mother has certainly been conditioned towards a typical female role but she has never tried to influence me in that way and has always been very supportive of whatever I have wanted to do. She hasn’t told me that I can do anything I want, rather has just been supportive when I express my desires. My father refused to support me when I wanted to move to the city and go to university. He thought that education is wasted on women. So I got a job and studied part time simultaneously. He also made me apply for an admin job that I didn’t want. I was overjoyed when I didn’t get it. Not that I expected to because my education had focused on maths and science.

    I have thought of one way where men and women are not equal when applying for a job. Generally men come across as more confident, whereas women focus more on what they can’t do. Back in the dark ages when I went to school we learned how to apply for jobs. We attended simulated job interviews at the local CES. We were told to put a positive spin on our presentation. Aren’t schools doing that any more? Women also need to do themselves a favour and stay the hell away from women’s magazines. The magazines are continually pointing out where we are inferior to someone featured in their magazines. Women readily believe that crap, to their own detriment.

    You mentioned that women shouldn’t have to move to the city to progress in a career. Unless you’re an indigenous person, your ancestors probably moved halfway around the world for a job. In some professions, e.g. medicine, moving overseas for a time is a given if one wants to specialise. I moved to study. Getting away from my father’s conditioning was the best thing I ever did. It gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons in a way that never would have happened had I remained in a rural town. Even though my father died when I was 21, remaining in that town would have had an adverse effect in numerous other ways and I never would have met the wonderful man who is now my partner. I do understand that some people cannot move, e.g. caring for an elderly parent, but refusing to move on the basis that one shouldn’t have to move for a job is very short sighted.

    I cannot comprehend why it is difficult to understand that positive discrimination for one person results in negative discrimination against another. Can you provide some examples of positive discrimination for women that would not result in negative discrimination against men?

  35. Trish Corry

    Do you feel my article is for a tokenism style positive discrimination? If so, you have read it wrong.

  36. Lee

    “In essence, there are more factors that contribute to pay disparity and job entry than you acknowledge here.”

    Yes there are but I clearly stated that I provided examples, not an exhaustive list.

    Feminists are making generalisations that present a bias. For example, I read somewhere a couple of days ago that female lawyers are earning less on average than male lawyers in the same practice. There’s no discussion of possible contributing factors, merely that women earn less.

    Lawyers are often paid based on how much money they bring into the practice and also based on their level of experience. Some areas of law are more lucrative than others. They make the big bucks when they go to court. Some lawyers try to get everything into court as soon as they can. Some lawyers prefer a less adversarial approach and practice collaborative law. One of the major selling points of collaborative law is that it costs the client less. Some lawyers do more pro bono work than others. It’s misleading to state that female lawyers are earning less than male lawyers if one is not going to compare the influence of these and other significant factors on the respective incomes.

  37. Lee

    “Do you feel my article is for a tokenism style positive discrimination? If so, you have read it wrong.”

    Some parts of it do read that way. Your fifth issue is one such example. Why should people be paid the same amount to do a very simple job that requires little responsibility, as someone who needs to study, update education and take significant responsibilities and risks on a regular basis?

  38. Trish Corry

    I’m afraid you are reading this wrong. Nowhere have I indicated that at all.

  39. Lee

    Well i’m reading your very broad, generalised statements with absence of specific ideas.

  40. Trish Corry

    Ok. I’ll take your criticism on board Lee.

  41. Lee

    Trish, are you able to provide some examples of positive discrimination for women that would not result in negative discrimination against men?

  42. Trish Corry

    If you can point out where I have stated that I am very pro positive discrimination without considering true equality including men; or any points where I have said it doesn’t matter if positive discrimination harms men, I will. Otherwise, please re-read the article.

    What you are asking me to do is basically like asking me to give you some examples of why Tony Abbott is a great Prime Minister. I believe we need equality, but tokenistic positive discrimination is not the way to go. I am not sure why you want me to give you these examples.

  43. Lee

    You said “The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men. ”

    Let’s back up a step. What do you mean specifically? Are you in favour of positive discrimination for women without considering the consequences for men, or are you in favour of positive discrimination for women that does not result in negative discrimination for men?

    You’ve stated that you seek a holistic approach so I’m assuming you’re in favour of the latter.

    If you think that positive discrimination for women is possible without resulting in a negative discrimination against men, please provide some examples of how this could be achieved. I want the examples because I am unaware of how that can be achieved. My understanding of positive discrimination results in a negative discrimination for someone else.

  44. Trish Corry

    I think I need to clarify that this piece is written from a liberal feminist perspective. I am a 45 year old woman and I have not just entered the current feminist sphere, much of which does not sit with my views. Liberal feminism includes men who are oppressed or discriminated against by the same paternalistic structures in society as women. For example: men experiencing discrimination to enter in to a non-traditional male field of work due to the paternalistic constructs of society. Liberal feminists look at the legislative and societal structures and how that can be changed. It is focused on egalitarianism, rather than tokenistic gestures. However, it always works in the sphere of where men are included it is the same reasons of oppression / discrimination that is set in society by the dominant hetro-sexual white male thought. It also looks at consequences of actions. So for example, if we just gave women jobs for the sake of it, what is the reaction to this action from society? How will this impact on women’s rights and the movement for the long term?

    I am a bit surprised you do not see the sentence for what it is. “How do we approach positive discrimination so it DOES NOT ENABLE disadvantage for men.

    I have put the key words in capitals. I am stating here we need to not just ‘give women the job for the sake of it” but look at the hindrances all along the process, up to an including applying for a job and securing that job.

    Due to word limits of blogs (for reader interest sake) it is too difficult to put an entire plethora of ideas forward in the one article. No one will read it. If no one reads it, there is no point writing it. I may as well keep a diary instead or a personal journal. I just want to address your complaint (or what I perceive as your complaint) that you do not have enough information within this blog post. Here is just a sample of ways this can be achieved. I was not attempting to solve the world in the one blog post.

    Some of the ideas I have surrounding where equality can be achieved without tokenism; is to start with the social conditioning of women and gender roles. Changing this social conditioning (you would make a lovely teacher, nurse, child care worker, shop assistant) rather than when Jenny grows up I hope she is an electrician. For example. There has been a little bit of movement out there with this, but think a concentration from early primary opening up the possibilities for all children and really driving that girls can do anything they want to do when they grow up, can and should be achieved. This is the same for young men. For example a nurse is a typical woman’s role and thought of as a woman’s role. A man is more thought of as ‘the doctor’ There is not reason why young boys cannot be open to the possibility of being a child care worker, nurse etc.,

    Subject selection in high school. There are no forums that really open up possibilities for students for choosing subjects for their careers / university (not in my experience or knowledge). There needs to be more challenges from schools and community and the workforce to encourage more female participation (and more male participation) in roles typically filled by the opposite gender.

    Conscious and unconscious bias in recruiting and selection: There is a plethora of research on this issue. Now the use of social media has come on board as a selection tool (not theoretically supported, but used by industry) this opens up a whole range of conscious and unconscious bias issues for both men and women. I am in the middle of research to understand if either gender suffers more discrimination under this practice than the other.

    Conscious and unconscious bias occurs in the recruitment phase where the recruiter may target particular male demographics, or word the advertisement (realistic job preview) as more appealing to men (or women, depending on the role). Unconscious bias can also occur with poorly done job analysis, creating a hindrances for women to be applied for a role. For example: Must be able to lift 12 kg. Where it could state, must have completed or undertakes a safe manual handling procedure (which would eradicate this item as discriminator for women and those with a disability).

    Conscious and unconscious bias occurs in the selection phase as a discriminator for women, in the culling stage (recruiters assuming that women are not suitable to undertake the role and setting them aside), at the interview stage (asking women questions that men would not get asked). (see Margaret Fitzherbert’s address in the women in parliament section).

    Linked to this is culture of workplaces. You brought up primary care giver earlier. Having little or no consideration for flexible work practices can deter a lot of women from entering particular fields of employment. In addition, many women even if they apply may be subject to unconscious bias if the recruiter / manager determines they are within ‘child bearing age’ and is it worth investing in this person? Even if they follow legislation and do not ask discriminatory questions, it does not mean it is not subject to unconscious bias.

    What this article is about when we consider equality, we tend to ignore that not everyone is on the same level and starts on the same level of advantage at all times. “This is where the best person for the job argument falls down” for me. Just because the job is available, does not mean that all of the best people are attracted to that job, or are not deterred from applying (through a variety of factors stated above), nor are all the best people not discriminated against through conscious or unconscious bias recruitment and selection practices.

    This is why this article looks at the hindrances, or as I like to call them ‘hidden barriers’ to equality in employment. Some examples above are eradicating social conditioning, emphasis on career guidance at high school and educating of recruiters (outsourced and onsite) and managers of organisations to view and change the culture of their organisation to be more inclusive. When you look at hindrances, rather than just the end goal, it gives you an opportunity to also look at the multiple hindrances (say racial discrimination, disability discrimination) as additional hindrances to equality. To me, that is the pathway to ensuring equality and the best person for the job, regardless of gender can be achieved.

    If you click on the link to the letter to the Prime Minister; there is a collection of statistics outlining the areas of discrimination for women. I selected just a few for this article.

  45. Lee

    Thank you. I agree with your egalitarian approach. Whether or not my own views are consistent with liberal feminism I have no idea. I don’t view your examples of positive discrimination to be discrimination at all. Some terms have different meanings in different fields and I suspect this is one of them. I’ll do some more reading as it relates to this topic.

  46. eli nes

    There are two great independent women in my family, One has a PhD and married a PhD. She had two children and after 11 years has entered the workforce and is finally addressing her HECs debt. Her husband has no debt. No equality there. But imagine if the husband goes for a new woman he goes debt free, shouldn’t that be part of divorce?? The other was promoted only on the condition she do a ‘fix’ on a department ruined by a ‘nice’ peter’s principle man. At canberra meetings she had no problems with the suits addressing me as the ‘high flyer’, the ‘president’ or the ‘deputy’. She and tens of thousands like her are uncomfortable with the affirmative action stigma and any action by me is limited to letters as it is a non negotiable fact of no discussion. She knows how good she is and that is that. no help there.
    ‘We must make women count as much as men’, emily pankhurst a hundred years ago. yet we have a pm who concedes there may be exceptional women but his nasty persecution of gillard(and barbara namjan) for beating him at every level except lying.
    The driver of the men of politics is religion and no religion believes women count indeed the one fervently believed by those jesuit trained, abbott. shorten, hockey, pyne, joyce and brother trained, albanese. andrews, robb add convert copper turnbull and you can see how far we have come since the green white and purple?? Her words on ‘moral code’ and ‘fight’. Are unmistakenly against the male religion and until the women equality issue is aired in rome and meca the attitude of abbutt, his ‘i do it for god’ boys and the women of a male god.
    Now his lifestyle gaffe was he talking from the evidence of his week at Yirrkala or just off the top of his 1950s pommie ethos.

  47. eli nes

    sorry for the drivel, tv. tea and disbelief that we could elect such a inept learner made me think of so many awful things that confusion reigned and still reigns.

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