The predominance of men in hierarchical positions in religion, politics and business cannot be denied.
In 1950 years, we have never had a female Pope and are most unlikely to ever see one.
In 285 years, the US has never had a female President.
With 28.7% of lower house seats, women remain significantly under-represented in the Australian parliament, ranking us 50th in the world, well behind many African nations.
In 2016, women held a paltry 4.2% of CEO positions in America’s 500 biggest companies.
Aside from the obvious inequity, there are greater implications from allowing males to make all the decisions.
As we have seen in the Royal Commission into institutionalised child sex abuse, men considered the reputation of the church more important than their duty to protect the children entrusted to their care.
In giving evidence today, the Archbishops said part of the problem was that Bishops were “company men” with a passionate life-long commitment to the institution who were more interested in the body corporate than the individual. They described the culture as more monarchial than pastoral.
Tony Abbott was a prime example of this. When writing of his reasons for leaving the seminary, he expressed his disappointment at attempts by the Church to become more empathetic, compassionate and consultative.
“A “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure. The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless. l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”
Interestingly, when asked today what they had done to change the nature of the response to allegations and meeting with victims of abuse, two of the Archbishops said they had employed women in senior positions to support the abused and their families.
Another area where men seem to be making all the decisions is in our response to climate change and future energy sources.
In 2015, the Climate Institute published research showing that Australian men are more likely than women to believe climate change is not happening, and to prefer nuclear and coal as energy sources.
Women, meanwhile, are more inclined than men to support wind and solar power, and take the view backed by the vast majority of the world’s scientists – that climate change is real.
Ian Dunlop, a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive who is now a director of not-for-profit think tank Australia21, said gender differences were a “fundamental issue” holding back climate action.
“The male incumbency in the business and political world have not been prepared to engage with that discussion,” he said, deriding a dominant culture of “macho short-termism”.
Mr Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and former chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, said women were more likely than men to see climate change as an “existential issue”.
“The male approach to this thing is [often] saying it is all nonsense, it’s all just alarmism,” he said.
As we listen to a procession of conservative male politicians and businessmen tell us that coal is good for humanity, it seems apparent that their only concern is short term profit. Gina Rinehart is the only female voice adding to the chorus, motivated solely by her legendary greed. She is an aberration whose total disdain for poor people is well-documented.
Together, men and women can be a formidable partnership in dealing with problems and finding solutions. Men on their own, not so much. The sooner they recognise the importance of including women in decision making and the insight that different perspectives can provide, the better off the world will be.