#TimesUp for Harvey Weinstein, but gender equality is just getting started. In recent times, women have made significant advancements towards gender equality. It’s a term that has been thrown around the media of late, and it’s defined as the state in which access to rights and opportunities are unaffected by gender. Our bible Cosmopolitan’s own mission is to help propel women into the best version of themselves, and the magazine is in no shortage of articles regarding our careers, motherhood, physical and sexual health. Just as our mothers and grandmothers know all too well, women are continuing to experience discrimination, sexism and inequality in many parts of their lives. Slowly but surely, celebrities, politicians, public and private sector workplaces, universities and schools contain an increasing amount of women who are taking on leadership roles that empower them, and in doing so are shaping positive pathways for other women to follow. As Hollywood’s Weinstein situation goes from bad to worse, society has to sit down and acknowledge we brought this on ourselves, and we need to make serious changes so our daughters can become the leaders of tomorrow.
Women undertake the majority of society’s unpaid caring work and in return, are finding a lack of supportive workplaces with opportunities with senior roles and part time roles with flexibility. According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women make up more than half of our population at 50.7 per cent, and studies conclude that women take home on average $251.20 less than men each week for adult, full-time earnings. The national gender pay gap is currently calculated at 15.3 per cent, and has hovered on this figure for the past 20 years. Women’s marches, protests and campaigns are changing the way women view themselves and how our male counterparts view us. However, no progress comes without backlash, as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought a herd of age-old misogyny into the mix. You can’t go on Twitter without seeing ‘women should be in the kitchen’ or ‘she’s asking for it’ throughout the comments section. The question is, why? Are men threatened by our innate sense of balance as we multitask a career and motherhood? Women are often undervalued with regards to their skills, and their lack of access to training is derailing their well-being. Women want to work in flexible, supportive organisational workplaces that don’t restrict employment prospects of staff with family responsibilities.
Young women are the leaders of tomorrow, and the discrimination pattern that has been sewn into our societal cloth needs to be yesterday’s news. According to a 2017 report by the University of Sydney, Australian workplaces are not readily supporting women’s future success or career goals. 2,100 women between 16 and 40 years of age were surveyed, and results were alarming. For 80% of working women, being treated with respect was viewed as an essential part of their relationship with their manager and/or employer. However, there was a significant gap between this aspiration and their working reality. In practice, 68% said they were treated with respect, 48% said they received adequate recognition at work, and 56% felt valued at work. While women surveyed experienced gender discrimination, over half believed the situation in their workplace would improve over the next decade and a third felt no change was forthcoming. The best way to conquer inequality issues is by having this conversation, which highlights why gender equality is important for both men and women, not just women.
Although many women experience prejudice in their careers once they become a mother, many women go on to successfully manage both roles. Businesswoman and mother of three Laura Furiosi has found a balancing act that’s changed her life for the better, a career move that propelled her from a male-dominated workplace as a school teacher at an all-boys school, to managing three successful international businesses. Furiosi founded Bossy Mummy, Rashoodz Swimwear and Squad Logistics, and has never looked back from the “boys club” she used to compete with as a teacher. The 2017 AusMumpreneur of the Year winner says helping other women reach their potential motivated her to start her businesses, along with her male counterparts that doubted her along the journey. “Businessmen have asked me ‘how do you manage school pickup if you run three businesses’, but men rarely get asked those types of questions”, Furiosi said. Although the busy mum takes her three daughters to business meetings around the world to teach them to be the leaders of tomorrow, she confesses to feeling mummy guilt, which stems from the enormous pressure society puts on women who work and parent concurrently. “Just because you’re a good businesswoman, doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother”, Furiosi said.
Australian women are on the right track to achieving gender equality, and as we are living and working in the year of 2018, sexist, misogynist and unsupportive attitudes belong in the 20th century. Women need to stand up and challenge any devalued position they may find themselves in, and change our long history of oppression. Gender equality is judging an individual based on their merit, and not viewing someone as superior or inferior based on their sex. Change will not be forthcoming until this injustice is eradicated, and as a society we must move on from all gender stereotypes. © Ali Harrison.
Sources: Equality Rights Alliance 2016, Gender Equality in Australia, https://www.equalityrightsalliance.org.au/whowe-are/gender-equality-in-australia/ Fair Work Ombudsman 2018, Gender pay equity, http://sydney.edu.au/business/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/348053/Women-and-the-Future-of-WorkReport_Final_050318.pdf The University of Sydney 2018, Women and the Future of Work, Report 1, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW http://sydney.edu.au/business/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/348053/Women-and-the-Future-of-WorkReport_Final_050318.pdf Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2018, Australia’s gender pay gap statistics report, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/gender-pay-gap-statistics.pdf