Equal rights fight
Community attitudes to work must change for women to be equal in the workplace, reports CareerOne Editor Cara Jenkin.
WOMEN now have more opportunities to take on high-power careers but workplace leaders reveal the crusade for equality may have just begun.
For 75 years, women have strived to improve their opportunities, roles and pay to achieve the same career success as men.
Formal barriers, such as legislation, are constantly being removed or changed to help women achieve success. This year includes the introduction of paid parental leave and a mandate for companies with more than 100 employees to report how they are closing the gender pay gap and increasing the number of women in senior positions.
Women on Boards executive director Claire Braund says female workers are making inroads to achieve equality but only recently has society realised that previous efforts have not been as effective as required.
‘‘The key thing is gender has only really had the agenda since mid-2009 as being an issue,’’ she says.
‘‘Everyone felt that in the past 20 years, with the number of women coming through, it would fix itself. But it hasn’t.
‘‘It’s more predominant now that we do have these heavily experienced and qualified women who don’t have any (career) pathways.’’
She says the major pathway required for women to move into more leadership roles is for women to stay on their career track while they have children.
She says it is not an either/or situation but the Australian culture to date has been that people are working or are having a family.
The two need to be mutually inclusive rather than exclusive, Ms Braund says.
For example, senior executive women can still keep tabs on their career when stepping out of the workforce to have children by being involved on the board of not-forprofit organisations.
‘‘Most people think it’s a woman’s issue,’’ Ms Braund says.
‘‘It’s not a women’s issue. It’s about men and women.
‘‘I think people at every stage of their career. It’s a work culture.’’
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that women now make up 45 per cent of the workforce, compared to 36 per cent 30 years ago.