Australia prides itself on being egalitarian, but does this sense of fairness extend to gender roles and equality? Gender inequality still exists in Australia despite the progress achieved over the past 40 years. Many observers claim that efforts to attain equality between men and women have stagnated, and may even be going backwards. How wide is the ‘gender gap’? This book examines a number of issues, including sex discrimination and the law, sexual harassment, women in decision-making roles (e.g. management, government), paid maternity leave, domestic load sharing and work-family responsibilities between men and women, gender stereotypes, equal pay and the ‘glass ceiling’.
- Despite efforts at local, national, and international levels, women and girls continue to face discrimination. Gender-based discrimination and inequalities violate the human rights of both women and men and affect the wellbeing of all children.
- More than 30% of Australia’s small business operators are women. Women make up more than half of the Australian public service workforce (57%) and hold around 36% of senior executive positions. In the private sector, however, women hold only around 12% of management jobs. Women hold 34% of all seats on federal government-controlled boards and around 23% of chair or deputy chair positions. However, women hold only 9% of private board directorships.
- The 2007-08 UN Human Development Report ranked Australia second in the world on the gender related development index and eighth in the world on the gender empowerment measure.
- Australia’s commitment to its international human rights obligations is reflected in domestic legislation, such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Equality between men and women is a principle that lies at the heart of a fair and productive society. It is also the key goal of the Act, which aims to eliminate discrimination and sexual harassment and promote greater equality in all aspects of the Australian community. Under the Act, individuals can lodge complaints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
- For men, the average time per day spent on total domestic activities, at 1 hour 37 minutes in 2006, has not changed since 1992. For women, the average time spent on domestic activities has declined over time, from 3 hours and 2 minutes in 1992 to 2 hours 52 minutes a day in 2006 (12% of the day).
- Sex discrimination means being treated unfairly because of your sex or marital status or because you are pregnant or potentialy pregnant. It also includes being dismissed from employment because you have family responsibilities. Discrimination also exists where there is a requirement (a rule, policy, practice or procedure) that is the same for everyone, but which has an unfair effect on particular groups.
- A national telephone survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2008 has found that 22% of females and 5% of males had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some time, compared to 28% of females and 7% of males in 2003.
- Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that can occur at work, school, uni or in social settings. Sexual harassment in the workplace is any form of unwelcome sexual attention that is, or that you find, offensive, humiliating or intimidating that occurs anywhere you carry out any task for your employment. Sexual harassment can be written, verbal or physical. Both males and females can be the victims of sexual harassment.
- In 2008 the number of companies with no women executive managers rose sharply to 45.5% from 39.5% in 2006. At board director level there were more than 10 men to every one woman and at CEO level there were 49 male CEOs for every female CEO in the ASX200.
- Women’s average earnings in Australia have dropped from 87 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2004 to 84 cents in 2008.
- The average female employee in late 2007 earned about $690 a week compared with $1060 for the average man. In other words, women, on average, earned just 65% of what men earned, meaning a pay gap of 35%.