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  • 18 Aug 2019 11:28 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Equal Pay Day was 31 August in 2018 so it has moved 3 days in the right direction – this year women must work an additional 59 days from the end of the last financial year to earn the same amount as men. At this rate, who knows, we could have pay equity in just 20 years!

    Equal Pay Day is a symbolic indicator of the significance of the national gender pay gap and why it matters for Australian women. It highlights the barriers Australian women still face in having the same opportunities and rewards in our workplaces as men.

    The Workplace Gender Equality Agency has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.0% for full-time employees, a difference of $241.50 per week: a fall of 0.6%. Women’s weekly earnings on average are $1,484.80 compared to men’s weekly average earnings of $1,726.30, based on ABS data.

    Libby Lyons, Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director, said she would have liked to see a stronger fall in the gender pay gap: “What Equal Pay Day actually signifies is that every other day of the year is Unequal Pay Day for women. Australian women first won the right to be paid the same as men for doing the same work or work of equal or comparable value in 1969 – that’s 50 years ago!”

    [Un]Equal Pay Day is not about two people being paid differently for the same work, it is about the national gender pay gap. The gender pay gap refers to the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time base salary earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall positions in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.

  • 10 Aug 2019 1:01 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Results recently released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors reveal that gender diversity on the boards of Australia’s largest companies has not yet hit the 30% target. The latest AICD Gender Diversity Quarterly Report reveals that women represent 29.7% of directors on ASX 200 boards.  In 2015, the AICD called for ASX 200 companies to achieve 30% by the end of 2018, but by June 2019 this target had not been reached.

    Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, said that the AICD is aiming too low and that the 30% target is out of step with Governments across Australia, the Australian Sports Commission, Australian superannuation industry and many other organisations who have set a minimum target of 40% and in some cases, 50% women.  Women on Boards has been advocating since 2009 for a target of at least 40% women and 40% men for boards across all sectors. 

    BPW Australia takes national action for women's equality – at work, on boards, in leadership.  We’re with WOB on this.  ASX 200 boards can – and should – do better.

  • 04 Aug 2019 12:33 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Christine Lagarde, the first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, speaking at the Forbes Women’s Summit in New York City, declared: “There are only 6 countries in the world where there is no legal discrimination at all between men and women.”

    Or put another way: Of the IMF’s 189 member countries, nearly 90% have at least one gender-based legal restriction, from limitations on what women can inherit and whether they can borrow money to prohibitions on their ability to take custody of their children. Lagarde’s assessment: “We need to work on that.”

    The IMF aims to ensure the stability of the global monetary system, promote international trade and economic growth, and reduce poverty. It wields $1 trillion in lending power for its members. Lagarde sees empowering women as more than a social imperative, because it has the potential to transform the global economy. As inequality rises, the gap between men’s and women’s participation in the workforce is hovering at around 16%, even in advanced economies. She believes major economic woes could be lessened by narrowing this gap. “It’s just a no-brainer that economies would grow, productivity would improve, and we would have more stability,” she said.

  • 28 Jul 2019 1:02 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    The first global index measuring efforts to end gender inequality finds countries are not doing enough to improve women’s lives, and no country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.

    Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index, launched in June, “should serve as a wake-up call to the world”.

    Even the Nordic states, which score highly in the index, would need to take huge strides to fulfil gender commitments in the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which 193 countries signed up to in 2015. The goals are considered the blueprint for global efforts to end poverty and inequality and halt the climate crisis. The deadline to meet them is 2030.

    SDG 5 requires signatories to address gender inequality. The inaugural SDG Gender Index, developed by the Equal Measures 2030 partnership, found that 2.8 billion women and girls currently live in countries that are not doing enough to improve women’s lives.  The gender equality index ranked Denmark highest. Australia ranked 10th out of 129, the UK ranked 17th, and the USA ranked 28th.


  • 21 Jul 2019 10:25 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    In June 2019, the International Labour Organisation adopted a new Convention and Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the workplace at the International Labour Conference. The Convention recognises that violence and harassment in the workplace can constitute a human rights violation or abuse, is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and is incompatible with decent work.

    The Convention provides a broad definition of "violence and harassment" and describes where it can take place. It defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” The standard covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace; places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break, or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities; during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities; work-related communications...in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work.

    The Convention states that everyone has the right to be free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, at work. It requires governments to take measures to protect workers from violence and harassment, especially women. It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a zero tolerance. The recognises that employers can also be subjected to violence and harassment.

  • 07 Jul 2019 12:38 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Over the past few decades of Australian life, government policies have gradually offered more support to working mothers, particularly through childcare subsidies and parental leave.  But what motivates Australian parents in their choices around work and childcare?

    Historian Carla Pascoe Leahy from the University of Melbourne has been researching Australian motherhood from 1945 to the present. Her oral histories, reported in The Conversation, reflect a wide diversity of experiences of Australian mothers, but there are consistent threads in their narratives. Most mothers want some continuity with their pre-maternal identity, to feel a sense of meaningful contribution to their society, and to enjoy their relationships with their children.

    Her conclusions: if government fails to comprehend the reasons why mothers choose to engage with different supports, family policy will be of limited effectiveness. Workforce participation and economic productivity are reasonable objectives of government policy, but they are not sufficient on their own.

  • 29 Jun 2019 5:56 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    When the PM announced his cabinet, it included 7 women ministers – a good sign – but only 23% of the Coalition’s MPs are women compared to 47% for the ALP – not impressive.  However, as researchers Sue Williamson and Prof Linda Colley explain in The Conversation, it’s not just the number of women MPs that matters, it’s how they legislate for change.

    According to neoliberal feminists, the struggle for gender equality is no longer dependent on collective action by society, rather it’s up to individual women to make the most of their opportunities and find success.  But a policy focus on individual women’s advancement can risk overlooking the underlying causes of gender inequality, a key aspect of BPW Australia’s advocacy.  

    In November 2018, the Coalition government released its Women’s Economic Security Statement which contained three main “pillars” to achieving gender equality – workforce participation, earning potential and economic independence. The researchers assessed how effective they’ll be in improving women’s lives. They concluded that Australia needs a systemic approach that includes major reforms to the welfare system, increased funding and resources for domestic violence, improved housing affordability, and reforms to the tax system that take account of impacts on women. Yes, neoliberal feminism may benefit some women, but is unlikely to herald long-lasting changes that improve the lives of all women, particularly those at the lower end of the pay scale.

  • 15 Jun 2019 1:14 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Financy questions: is it worth returning to work given the excessive cost of childcare? Women shouldn’t have to ask themselves this, but many do without considering their long-term financial security or their own dreams.  Many women weigh up childcare costs with working, but consider the risks, not just for the woman’s career prospects but for the whole family’s financial security.  Career breaks to have children are a key contributor to the superannuation savings gap that affects the financial security of women. Although these career breaks are often referred to as a choice made by the primary carer (namely women), the cost of childcare is a key financial consideration and a critical enabler of female workforce participation.

    Natasha Janssens, author of Wonder Woman’s Guide to Money, says that a 25-year-old woman on a full-time yearly income of $60,000 stands to lose roughly $170,000 in superannuation by taking five years out of the workforce between age 35 and 40 and $400,000 if she takes 10 years out between 30 and 40. But if you knew that you would lose $400,000 in your retirement savings by staying at home to look after your kids full-time for 10 years, would you still think childcare was too expensive?

  • 09 Jun 2019 11:16 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Women on Boards reports there is a mismatch in the skills and experience boards are recruited on and those that are effective in the boardroom.  Prof. Stanislaw Shekshnia from INSEAD, speaking at a Women on Boards breakfast, observed that there was “a big difference between what makes you a board member and what makes you effective in the boardroom”. 

    Besides broad expertise and ambition for the institution, skills that make you effective in the boardroom include: soft skills such as listening, questioning and feedback; openness and learning capability; personal humility and maturity; sound preparation and willingness to commit time and focus.  But companies recruit their board members based on: their name; their CV; their network; and their industry knowledge.

    Prof. Shekshnia’s research in Europe indicated the attributes most likely to have you selected and appointed as a board chair are being a man and being a CEO. Women appointed as chairs tended to be older at first appointment, formally educated and have experience as an independent director.

  • 01 Jun 2019 3:22 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Michelle Staff, a PhD student at ANU with an interest in women's and gender history, analyses the current and historical drivers of women's Parliamentary representation.

    Australia was the first country in the world to grant (some) women the dual rights of voting and standing for parliament in 1902; South Australia had already granted these rights to all women in 1894.  

    Despite some significant advances since, Australia still lags behind global standards. Before the 2019 federal election, Australia was 48th in the world in terms of women’s lower house representation, tied with Angola and Peru and falling below many other countries such as Rwanda, Nepal and Ecuador.

    The election has increased the proportion of women in parliament from 33% to around 35%, which clearly falls short of equal representation. This is a problem particularly for the Liberal party: only 23% of their representatives are women compared to the ALP’s 47%.  Although Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new ministry is being touted for its “record” number of women, the 7 women in the ministry hold just 8 of the 28 total cabinet positions.

    So why are women still struggling to make gains in our parliament and what does this say about the state of our democracy?  In The Conversation, Michelle explores the history of women's suffrage and tracks the discriminatory barriers that still impact today.

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