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Five reasons we still need to focus on workplace gender equality


6 March 2020 at 4:01 pm
Maggie Coggan
It’s been over 100 years since the first International Women’s Day (IWD) took place, and in that time there’s no question we’ve come a long way to address gender equality. 


Maggie Coggan | 6 March 2020 at 4:01 pm


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Five reasons we still need to focus on workplace gender equality
6 March 2020 at 4:01 pm

It’s been over 100 years since the first International Women’s Day (IWD) took place, and in that time there’s no question we’ve come a long way to address gender equality. 

But the problem is far from fixed. 

This IWD, the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) is challenging the idea that workplaces no longer need to address gender equality. Here are five reasons why: 

Pre-work 

DCA says that women are behind the eight-ball before they even enter the workforce. They are less likely to enter STEM careers due to gender stereotypes around the types of subjects boys and girls should study and the types of jobs men and women should do. These stereotypes also mean men are locked out of jobs such as nursing and child care because they are considered by young men as not being “masculine enough”. 

 Mum penalty 

Because women with children tend to take time off work to look after their kids and are more likely to work part-time, they experience a “motherhood penalty”, accounting for 39 per cent of the gender pay gap. This also means that on average, women retire with half the superannuation of men.   

Exclusive networking  

Networking can lead to great career opportunities, but if you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry networking can prove to be a lot harder. DCA says that women still often miss out on important networking opportunities in alcohol-based after-hours sporting/social events because they are either not invited or feel uncomfortable attending. 

Men working in female-dominated industries can also often experience professional isolation, and subsequently miss out on networking opportunities and moving up the career ladder. 

It’s about respect 

One in four Australian women have experienced sexual harassment at work in the past year, and 85 per cent of women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, workplaces can stamp this out by drawing up policies and procedures that try and create a harassment-free environment. To be effective, the policies need to be followed up with ongoing training, communication, and reinforcement of what behaviour is appropriate in a workplace. 

Gender stereotypes make another appearance 

By the time women make it into the workforce, the idea that they are warm, caring and unassertive actually stops them from taking on, or being picked for, leadership roles (even if they are completely capable). Masculine stereotypes can also be incredibly harmful to men.  It can cause men to suppress their emotions resulting in a range of physical and psychological issues and even premature death.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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