Women in the workforce

Women in the Workforce

I’m a career girl and I’ve worked in both small business and for the public sector. So I can honestly tell you that women in the workforce still face some big challenges.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is a man or has their head in the sand.  Some employers (7.1%) have taken steps in the right direction by implementing strategies to improve female participation in the workforce.  Some have taken (smaller) steps towards closing the pay gap between men and women.  On the flip side there are other employers who haven’t done anything about it.

According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Council, women make up 48.5% of all employees in non-public sector companies.  Almost half. That’s not so bad.  However the number of women decreases when moving into management levels.  Only 26.1% of key management personnel are women and just 17.1% of CEOs are women.

A third of the employers had no female employees in key management positions. Further more, less than one in 10 had a set target to increase the number of women in key management positions.

There is a 24.7% gap between what a woman gets paid and what a man gets paid – to do exactly the same job!  Further more, less than 1 in 4 of those employers has actually checked the pay difference is between men and women at their organisation.

Statistics aside, I also think there needs to be a lot more discussion around the perception of women in the workforce.

The stigma of the working mothers feeling guilty or judged as inadequate mothers is still there. And the perception that attractive women are unintelligent or only capable of being a receptionist hasn’t gone anywhere.   I’m not even going to touch the ‘women are too emotional for leadership roles’, because it’s bullshit.

In my personal experience, women also have to deal with ageism more than men do in the workplace.  I’ve been in conversations where young employees are discussed and the men are described as enthusiastic go-getters.  Whereas the women are described as over achievers or simply being promoted for being ‘pretty’, not for their skills.

I guess my point is, women can rant and rave all they like about wanting more opportunities in the workforce.  But it won’t achieve anything.  Not until the organisations we work for and the men that we work with truly understand the issues and break down the barriers with us.

Some of the men that work for organisations who are implementing gender equality strategies think women are getting a free ride.  Or that women are getting promotions just for the sake of increasing the statistics. In their mind it couldn’t possibly be that the women receiving those promotions have earned them or have the skills to perform the role.  Perhaps they feel like a woman has taken an opportunity that should be rightfully theirs.  The word ‘rightfully’ sums it up nicely, they believe women don’t deserve the same opportunities they do.

I’ve even had one of those awkward moments with a man who works at such an organisation. He was talking about the women’s section and how is used to be the ‘auxiliary’ part of the workforce. Me being me said “oh so they’re called the auxiliary service because they aren’t really required or they can’t possibly do the full job that the men do?”.  His response was “oh, you’re one of those”.

One of those…….. for a second or two I was a little confused.  WTF does he mean be one of those?  Like it’s a problem that I have an opinion and I’m a woman?  Heaven forbid I consider myself and equal and see fit to participate in a conversation.

I responded with “Yeah, I’m one of those, through and through”.    He didn’t push the conversation any further but on another occasion he saw fit to question me in a group setting about why I would be a feminist….. I won’t get in to that here.  Best to leave it for another post otherwise you’ll be reading for hours!

I won’t tell you which organisation he works for.  But I will say that it’s a very large and important organisation in Australia in the public sector.

Some, not all men, genuinely feel threatened by the concept of feminism and gender equality.  Almost it’s as if it takes away what they think their role is in society. They don’t know what their role is if we’re capable of doing all those things ourselves.

I’m sorry boys but it’s not your role in life to go and get a job, get married and have a stay at home wife.  Every single person is entitled to have a career. Sex organs don’t really come into it.  As for expecting your wife to either be a stay at home mum or just have a part-time gig, if that’s what your wife wants, great.  Your role is to love her support her in that.  If your wife wants a career then your role is still to love her and support her in that.

Just because women physically carry the necessary equipment to have a baby doesn’t mean that we should have our work and lifestyle choices limited.

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