The debate around gender equality in the workforce has been a long standing one. Even though opportunities for women have come a long way since the 1950’s there are still some in roads to be made within relation to the representation of women in the workforce and the pay gap between men and women. By addressing the many issues that women face in achieving equality in the workforce, the facts must be assessed to make strategies to bridge the gap between men and women’s levels of participation in the employment stratosphere.
EDUCATION VS INCOME
On average women are more educated than men according to the Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2014), with 5.1% of women aged 15-64 have attained a postgraduate degree, compared to 4.9% of men in the same age bracket. Yet women earn on average 17.5% less than men working full-time. The gap is arguably out of balance and there are many factors that impact these statistics such as the choice to have and raise children.
WOMEN AND INCOME MANAGEMENT
Women make up 55.7% of pensioners aged 65 and over and this could be due to the gap in income, but there is an even more alarming issue that affects the increased presence of women receiving the aged pension in Australia. On average superannuation balances of women are 42.1% less than their male counterparts. There seems to be an underlying issue with women and finances which is a surprising statistic considering 3 in 5 women have control over household budgets. In Australia there are 98,900 more females than men so the argument could be said that there needs to be a focus on women to take control of their finances through education, work choices and income so that they do not become a financial burden for the Australian Government in the future.
WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT
According to the Australian Government WGEA fact Sheet (Scorecard) women being represented in key management roles decrease as the level of responsibility increases with women comprising of just 26.1% of key management personnel (KMP) positions, and 17.3% of CEO positions. It is not surprising when we know that less than one in 10 organisations have set a target to lift the number of women in boardrooms, despite figures reflecting the enormous gap between male and female representations with 23.7% of women holding directorships and 12% of women chair boardrooms.
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT
The statistics are alarming considering that women are more satisfied with their jobs than men according to Roy Morgan Research and less likely to have anxiety at work. There is arguably a good case for women to be employed over men considering that women are less likely to leave employment due to the level of job satisfaction thus creating a more sustainable workforce.
Google found that there are two main selection factors that impact the hiring of women;
- We like to surround ourselves with people who are like us, thus if the proportion of hiring personnel are men they are more likely to employ men
- Women tend not to brag about accomplishments, society has made it more acceptable for men to brag. Meaning women are less likely to sell their accomplishments and employers fail to see the benefits of hiring female candidates
Google went further to rectify the imbalance in their female to male employment levels and put in place strategies to level the playing field.
- Have women interview women. Including women into the mix meant that not only will women hire more women, but women are more likely to accept positions if the interview panel was comprised of women.
- Ask women specific questions regarding accomplishments and take detailed notes. This allows women ample opportunity to state accomplishments and discuss the challenges that were worked through to have successful outcomes to give employers clearer knowledge of the skills that could benefit their companies.
The challenge has been laid down for more companies to take on Google’s philosophies and identify the challenges they face in getting the best candidates for their company regardless of gender but still taking into consideration the factors of how gender type’s best communicate. This would mean that women would be more seriously considered for roles based on prior accomplishments.
WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT
According to the United Nations statistics, 22% of national parliamentarians were female worldwide as of January 2015 a slow increase of 10.7% over 20 years since 1995. It is not just private enterprise that needs to take gender equality seriously but government policy also needs to reflect the importance of female representation in the workforce as a whole.
WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WORK
The top stressors for women according to The Australian Psychological Society are;
- Money 53%
- Family 52%
- Personal Health 45%
Women certainly present higher levels of stress compared to men in the workplace but are more likely to manage their stress through de-stressing and managing health in fact women (82%) prioritise health more than men (76%). The Barriers for women’s health certainly play a significant role, some being unexpected life events (67%), loss of motivation (65%), family demands (54%) and the overall expense of staying healthy (63%). By educating and assisting women in these areas should alleviate the levels of stress in the workplace. One important note is that women were more likely to give up or reduce their intake of alcohol in the aim to stay healthy. This ability women have to make positive change is the key to improving women’s health in the workplace. Women are more likely to make a specific plan for changing their lifestyle and have a stronger desire for change than men. Understanding the triggers for women’s health is a vital key to combating women’s health issues ensuring they fit for work and reduce the costs due to sick leave in Australia.
The plan to move forward is critical in bridging the gaps between men and women and there are some key areas that we can take action on:
- Encourage women to continue learning
- Encourage and educate women around financial planning
- Encourage and educate business to implement policy to increase female participation rates in management and the benefits of such action
- Empower women to be more assertive
- Address the stress factors that hold women back
- Empower women to take control and be the creator of their future
- Encourage physical and mental health
By having a clearer insight into the areas that affect the quality of life of women, we can plan to support them more effectively to create positive futures and fulfilling work and personal lives.
Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2014), Accessed at https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/2014-02-10-Stats_at_a_Glance.pdf
News.com.au – Mothers are the boss when it comes to managing household finances, Accessed at http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/mothers-are-the-boss-when-it-comes-to-managing-household-finances/story-e6frfmcr-1227346897559
Roy Morgan Research, Accessed at
ERE Media, Accessed at
UN Women – Women IN Government (worldwide), Accessed at
The Australian Psychological Society, Accessed at https://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/WOMEN_Survey-factsheet.pdf
With a background in Retail and Banking this girl has worked at all levels of employment, from cleaning to management Rebecca has never been out of work. As a mother of two she understands the challenges women face throughout their career and adapts to whatever life throws her way.