Fight on for equal rights

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Yet the Equal Op­por­tu­nity for Women in the Work­place Agency (EOWA) finds just 8.4 per cent of board di­rec­tor po­si­tions in Aus­tralia’s top 200 com­pa­nies are held by women.

Its an­nual re­port re­veals the per­cent­age of women in man­age­ment roles fell from 33.5 per cent in 2009 to 32.5 per cent in 2010.

The av­er­age to­tal full-time earn­ings of women is still 20 per cent less than men, with women tak­ing home $1146.80 a week and men $1432.40 a week, lat­est ABS fig­ures show.

One of the rea­sons is that women work in roles and in­dus­tries that sim­ply do not pay as much as other more male-dom­i­nated sec­tors.

Aus­tralian Ser­vices Union branch sec­re­tary Ka­trine Hild­yard says 85 per cent of staff in the com­mu­nity ser­vices sec­tor are women and it has the high­est num­ber of mul­ti­ple ter­tiary de­gree hold­ers of any other sec­tor.

Yet peo­ple who work in com­mu­nity ser­vices don’t get sim­i­lar pay to peo­ple work­ing in other in­dus­tries, she says.

‘‘As a so­ci­ety, we sim­ply don’t recog­nise and re­ward the work of these im­por­tant South Aus­tralians,’’ she says. In­equal­ity also is felt in spe­cific in­dus­tries long as­so­ci­ated with be­ing ‘‘a man’s job’’.

The per­cent­age of women train­ing in trade ca­reers is about 10 per cent.

ETSA Util­i­ties is em­bark­ing on a new pre-em­ploy­ment pro­gram, the first of its kind in Aus­tralia, to pro­vide women with industry-spe­cific skills to help them work in elec­trotech­nol­ogy’s tra­di­tional men’s roles.

Its Strate­gic Projects senior pro­ject man­ager Dan­nielle Kur­batfin­ski, 38, has worked for ETSA for 21 years.

‘‘As a girl in a male-dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ment, you have to prove your­self first,’’ she says. ‘‘Men don’t have to prove them­selves. I just got in there and did it.’’

She en­cour­ages women to pur­sue their in­ter­ests. ‘‘You find ev­ery­body gives peo­ple a chance and I think you’ll find it’s not as daunt­ing as it may sound.

‘‘There’s re­ally good sup­port sys­tems as well. You’re not out there do­ing it alone.’’

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