More women in leading business roles
ALTHOUGH MEN continue to hold the majority of Australia’s top leadership positions the role of women is crucial to the future of the nation.
According to new Gender Indicator figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2013-14, just 26% of Key Management Personnel, 24% of Board Directors and 17% of CEOs were women,” said Lisa Conolly from the ABS.
“Latest data also shows 35% of Commonwealth justices and judges and 23% of all State Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges were women. “The Health Care and Social Assistance (37%), Education and Training (36%) and Administrative and Support Services industries (21%) recorded the highest proportions of women CEOs, while there were very few in the Mining (3%) and Financial and Insurance Services (4%).” The situation in the public service is changing, however, with the proportion of women in senior executive roles rising from 31% in 2004 to 40% in 2014. And in 2015, 31% of Federal parliamentarians were women, up from 26% in 2005. Career-wise, women make up 42% of the professional, scientific and technical services industry, 70% of persons in education and training, 78% of the health care and social assistance industry and 49% of the public administration and safety sector.
Gender Indicators, Australia, brings together a variety of ABS and non-ABS data, and explores the differences between men and women in our society, and how these differences are changing over time.
Michael Hartman, CEO of ForestWorks (which amongst many roles also facilitates the national Women in Forests and Timber Network), said that the interesting issue for ForestWorks was how training, education and skills development opportunities might affect employment outcomes when it comes to gender.
“Many people progress through their careers via the learning and development opportunities offered to them in the workplace.
“According to NCVER statistics, in 2014 females only made up 4% of people enrolled in a vocational education and training course for the forestry and wood products industry which is well below their percentage of employment in the industry. However women make up 53% of enrolments in VET across all industries and 84% of enrolments for community services and health courses.
“A high proportion of either gender within a specific industry has an impact on training opportunities. Evidence suggest that the majority of opportunities for learning and development often go to the people who are part of the dominate gender in a particular industry or workplace. Ultimately this is often the challenge about managing and extracting the advantages of diversity,” he said.
“People tend to promote and offer training opportunities to people who think and act like them, therefore dominate gender bias is perpetuated, often outside of the awareness of the decision makers. This effect snowballs over time and becomes part of the culture of an organisation or an industry.
“This is where investing in education and training can be beneficial for an organisation. Firstly, to have a training policy that recognises the need for training to be offered to all employees who are potential candidates for a new position; and secondly, via leadership training to recognise the benefits of diversity – assuming that diversity is properly managed. The most obvious and simple way to increase diversity is to look towards increasing gender balance in roles across all levels of an organisation,” said Michael.
Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford is also a strong believer in the role women play especially in rural areas.
“With our food and fibre industry contributing more than $11.6 billion to Victoria’s economy, it’s vital we recognise the contribution of rural women to this crucial sector,” the Minister had said when addressing the Rural Women Uncovered Forum, in Beechworth.
“As Victoria’s first female Agriculture Minister, I am extraordinarily proud to support and promote the role women play in our primary industries and rural communities.”
Themed Exposing the Potential of Women in Agriculture, guest speakers included Georgie Somerset (Vice President of Agforce), Nicole Ladd (Victorian Regional Manager of Prime Super), Alexandra Gartmann (CEO of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal) and Jodie Goldsworthy (Director at Beechworth Honey).
“The Rural Women Uncovered Forum is a unique and important initiative, bringing many inspirational women from rural communities together to network, share experiences, make discoveries and inspire one another.”
■ Wendy Fennell, Managing Director of Mount Gambier-based Fennel Forestry.