The jobs women want

More and more roles are be­ing filled by fe­male em­ploy­ees, re­ports Han­nah Silverman.

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WOMEN are favour­ing new-age roles in so­cial me­dia and or­gan­i­sa­tional man­age­ment, driven by an in­dus­try need to re­group and pro­mote fol­low­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Re­cruit­ment firms pro­vided Ca­reerOne with a list of the jobs women want in 2010. They found the fi­nan­cial cri­sis had led to an in­creas­ing in­ter­est from em­ploy­ers for man­age­ment po­si­tions to change the work­place strat­egy and cul­ture.

At present, jobs in mar­ket­ing, con­sul­tancy and man­age­ment are highly sought af­ter while faith­ful roles in ac­counts, ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­tail re­main on the re­cruit­ment radar.

Ta­lent2 team leader Ruth Mor­gan says that as in­dus­tries re­cover from the ef­fects of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, new in­ter­est in jobs in man­age­ment and pro­mo­tion is emerg­ing. These are roles typ­i­cally favoured by women.

‘‘I guess the main el­e­ment within a role that women look at is project man­age­ment, or project-ori­ented roles. . . Com­ing out of the GFC, there is mas­sive tran­si­tion and re­struc­tur­ing, so there is a big de­mand for peo­ple to come in and lead those projects,’’ she says.

Excel Re­cruit­ment gen­eral man­ager Pam Hewett says com­pa­nies are now look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture and want a com­pet­i­tive edge.

‘‘Or­gan­i­sa­tional devel­op­ment and project man­agers were kind of in or­gan­i­sa­tions as floaters in a few dif­fer­ent things like change man­age­ment. Un­der the GFC, they sort of went and now they are com­ing back,’’ she says.

FROM apron-clad housewives to ex­ec­u­tives who pocket in ex­cess of $150,000-plus a year, women have trav­elled a long way down the ca­reer path.

To­day’s ca­reer women are work­ing in a di­verse range of pro­fes­sions and in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing those once dom­i­nated by men, such as law, ac­count­ing and the me­dia.

They sit on ex­ec­u­tive boards, run cor­po­rate busi­nesses and in many cases do so while per­form­ing the work, life, fam­ily jug­gling act.

The ap­point­ment of Aus­tralia’s first fe­male prime min­is­ter last month also her­alded an­other new age for ca­reer-minded women.

But while women are a far cry from the sex­ist re­stric­tions that plagued them un­til the late 1900s, they are still fight­ing work­force demons. A fed­eral par­lia­men­tary in­quiry last year found that with $1032 a week, women na­tion­ally were paid 17 per cent less than the av­er­age man’s wage of $1244.10.

In South Aus­tralia, they are paid 13.9 per cent less than men.

It also re­vealed that in some in­dus­tries in­clud­ing fi­nance and in­surance, women were earn­ing up to 32 per cent less.

This month’s Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics fig­ures shows the num­ber of women in full-time em­ploy­ment has in­creased from 124,900 to 184,700 in the past 30 years, but they still only make up 34 per cent of the state’s full-time em­ploy­ees.

Act­ing Equal Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sioner Anne Burgess says women are ‘‘ sig­nif­i­cantly un­der- rep­re­sented’’ in our work­force. ‘‘Through the com­mis­sion’s train­ing pro­grams for busi­ness, we have found that those with flex­i­ble work ar­range­ments, sound re­cruit­ment prac­tices and who tackle stereo­types at­tract and re­tain the best peo­ple,’’ she says.

Anal­y­sis by the Women on Boards group re­leased in De­cem­ber found there was just one fe­male di­rec­tor, Jenny Hill-Ling, of Hills In­dus­tries, out of 50 on the boards of the seven ASX200 com­pa­nies head­quar­tered in SA. At only 2 per cent, this rep­re­sented the low­est per­cent­age in the coun­try.

Women on Boards ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Claire Braund says the gen­der gap is still preva­lent in the Aus­tralian work­force.

‘‘One of the great­est chal­lenges for women in to­day’s work­force is com­bat­ing their own and oth­ers’ per­cep­tions that gen­der is no longer an is­sue and that the play­ing field is level,’’ she says.

‘‘There is just too much hard sta­tis­ti­cal ev­i­dence that it isn’t.’’

Busi­ness SA chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Vaughan says men dom­i­nate ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions and were there­fore paid more on av­er­age.

‘‘You’ll find men are paid on av­er­age a greater salary fig­ure in to­tal and that’s be­cause there are so many more of them, and that’s the prob­lem, mak­ing sure that women have the op­por­tu­nity to break through the glass ceil­ing in a work­force which wants skilled women but hasn’t yet come to grips with the fact that women bear

chil­dren,’’ he says. ‘‘That’s an area that needs con­sid­er­able work.

‘‘The lat­est parental leave leg­is­la­tion is a step in the right di­rec­tion but we do need to have far more fam­ily-friendly work­places if we’re go­ing to see women bridge the gap, par­tic­u­larly in the man­age­rial and ex­ec­u­tive end.’’

When it comes to uni­ver­sity stud­ies, 61.5 per cent of those en­rolled for 2010 study in South Aus­tralia were fe­male, fig­ures from South Aus­tralian Ter­tiary Ad­mis­sions Cen­tre show.

Nor­man Water­house Lawyers part­ner Ali­son Adair, who is a mem­ber of the Premier’s Coun­cil for Women, has dur­ing the years worked part-time and re­motely from home. She is mar­ried with three sons aged 11, 13 and 16.

‘‘Fifty years ago, there were fewer women in the work­force and gen­er­ally in more sup­port­ive or cler­i­cal roles and un­skilled jobs,’’ she says. ‘‘Now, while there is still a pre­pon­der­ance of women in low­er­paid un­skilled jobs, there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties for man­age­ment and lead­er­ship roles.

‘‘Also, one of the sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences is that 50 years ago, if a woman mar­ried she was gen­er­ally ex­pected to leave the work­force and some em­ploy­ers re­fused to em­ploy mar­ried women.’’

But hur­dles are still clearly preva­lent, and those who chose to jump them are find­ing women aren’t on easy street yet.

‘‘The re­al­ity is that women are get­ting ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing and young women are be­ing em­ployed,’’ she says. ‘‘How­ever, in their 30s women are still find­ing they have to make choices in re­gard to hav­ing a fam­ily and the work­place of­ten re­mains in­flex­i­ble.

‘‘So they ei­ther find it dif­fi­cult to re­turn to work or do so part-time or in a re­duced po­si­tion on a lower salary and with less op­por­tu­nity for pro­mo­tion.’’

Ms Adair says with­out a flex­i­ble work­place, women will strug­gle to bal­ance work and fam­ily.

BAL­ANC­ING ACT: Bronwyn Klei with daugh­ters Kennedy and Macken­zie .

Pic­ture: Jo-Anna Robin­son

Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity on­line con­tent co-or­di­na­tor Timea Ko­vacs.

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