• Home
  • Sociology
  • Women now make up half the Australian workforce. They are more skilled, more educated and taking up jobs at a faster rate than at any other time in Australia"s history. Yet their work remains undervalued. Even now, full-time working women still earn

Women now make up half the Australian workforce. They are more skilled, more educated and taking up jobs at a faster rate than at any other time in Australia"s history. Yet their work remains undervalued. Even now, full-time working women still earn Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:


Women have still not achieved equality in the workplace.

Women have for many years fought for an equal place as men in the workplace. In Australia today compared to the history, women are more educated, more skilled, more ambitious and taking up jobs at a faster rate. Almost half Australian workforce is made up of women. However, regardless of their efforts their work remains undervalued, thus, still not achieved equality in the workplace. According to a survey taken by the Australian Human Resources Institute, many organizations didn’t have any strategy to ensure that women had equal opportunities in getting jobs, maintaining them and getting promoted. A third of responses from women reported experiencing gender bias in their workplaces and paychecks. Several factors therefore, influence the inequality of Australian women in the workplace

Social and cultural factors affect equality of women in employment. There is existence of attitudes and beliefs about both women and men which includes opinions and stereotypes about roles of women and men as perceived by the society. This is attributed to what women choose in employment and education, social norms and traditional notions that pressurizes them regarding the most ‘appropriate’ work for them, and this begins from a tender age and continues throughout their lives. There are decisions regarding whether to work part time or full time, to take up paid work, the type of industries to work and the kind of occupations to take up. All these are influenced by the attitude the society has that women are better at certain roles that others; nurturing and caring. Domestic issues or arrangements also affect participation of women in the workforce, with domestic work being a critical factor which affects their working hours and roles in the workplace (Giele& Stebbins. 2003:p 270).

FaHCSIA, 2011)Men in senior decision-making positions in the workplace hold traditional attitudes which pre-judge, de-value and under-estimate women’s skills. These attitudes limit women’s access to certain opportunities like promotion, development and training, and contribute to biasness against women in the process of recruitment and selection. Traditional attitudes held in male-dominated organizations are uncomfortable for women and resist any woman seeking equal participation in those organizations. A survey taken by Australian Government, Department of Families, Housing, Community Service and Indigenous Affairs reported that 41% the society’s perception of roles of women and men is a key contribution to inequality for women in employment (

A roundtable discussion done in Sydney concluded that women tend o accept inequality and its constraints rather that challenging the status quo and facing its risk. Awareness of these challenges is reduced and there is no drive for change which makes the issue not a priority on community and political agendas. Roundtable discussions in Brisbane and Melbourne attributed lack of campaigns about women in employment, and lack of effort taken by organizations to try and do things differently despite policies installed. There is a great gap between having a policy and actually implementing it (Davidson & Burke. 2000:p 281 )

Moreover, these culture and attitudes have become inherent features in many organizations. Merit, value, or strengths in many workplaces are defined in traditional ways and can support discriminatory practices. For example, other than workplace culture placing great emphasis on output quality or actual output, it emphasizes on the number of worked hours. According to Adelaide roundtable discussion, discriminatory performance measurement indicators are seen in long lengths of service and work hours, especially women with family commitments (FaHCSIA 2011) Unfair implications experienced by these women include delayed career path progression, delayed promotion and perceived inexperience or less experience. Another perception is those working under arrangements that are flexible miss out on promotions and a perception of those working part-time cannot be given managerial or senior positions.

Another culture factor in Australia that inhibits women equality at the workplace is long working hours, which impacts a woman’s decision to take up a role with a feeling of choosing between a career and family. 11% of public submissions showed the culture of long working hours in organization to be a barrier to equality at workplace. The workplace today doesn’t respect an individual’s privacy especially with improvement of technology, which lacks an alignment with commitments of the family, and job security threats that an individual can feel, which discourages them from taking a flexible arrangement. According to an interview with Dr. Alex Birrel, though long working hours culture isn’t directly gender discriminating, it hinders progression in the workplace for women with caring responsibilities (Burgess et al. 2008: p110)

if it is perceived that women have been progressed because of the legislation rather than on the basis of merit. Some men view women initiatives as discriminatory towards them (FaHCSIA 2011).of legislation in place. One employee survey respondent put the view that equal opportunity legislation itself can create additional attitudinal barriers and biases, in that it can undermine a woman’s further progressionAccording to a certain employee survey response, equal opportunity legislation can itself become an additional biases and barriers to equality for women in the workplace. This can take place by undermining progression of women as it is perceived they progressed not on merit but because

Stereotyping is also seen as a barrier to women’s success in the workplace. Some skills that are valued in men may be seen negative in women; a dominant leader may be perceived negatively in a woman and can be labeled a troublesome. A man who is decisive can be viewed as one who has clear vision, while a woman with the same character may be viewed as inflexible. A discussion that took place in Women’s Forum Australia reported that women were negatively evaluated when they apply different styles of leadership, when they some approaches are seen as unfeminine when applied like autocrative and directive. The issue of a behavior being perceived differently in men and women has also been identified as a barrier when recruiting women (Catalyst. 2007: p6).

. Other tangible factors are lack of parental and childcare leave, quality and flexible roles and of structural initiatives in work arrangements (Gregory, Raymond. 2003: p5).Klarsfeld, Alain. 2010: p 28)Another barrier to creating equality in opportunities in the workplace is failure to recognize and understand the benefits of improving employment opportunities for women and its outcomes on organization. Management see labor as a cost that they would like to bring down, however, what they don’t realize that poor conditions and pay leads to high turnover which generates cost. Low pay also affects the economy in general as it leads to increased poverty. Once organizations understand this, then they will consider paying women high wages or else as equal as men. Lack of research in this area and lack of education and awareness amongst decision makers has contribution to these circumstances. An economic rationale can encourage decision makers as well as organization to be more flexible in their working arrangements (

Many surveys and researchers have reported an increasing number of women entering the workforce and taking up jobs they didn’t take several centuries ago. Many women are going to school and other contributing greatly to a professional world, yet it is clearly seen that despite all that women haven’t yet achieved equality at the workplace due to social, cultural, historical and organization factors that need to be addressed.

Referencing List

Burgess, J, Michelson, G, Jamieson, S & Burgess J 2008, New Employment Actors: Developments from Australia, Peter Lang

Catalyst 2007, The double-bind dilemma for women in leadership: damned if you do, doomed if you don’t, Catalyst.

Davidson, M & Burke, RJ 2000, Women in Management: Current Research Issues, SAGE

FaHCSIA 2011. Review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 – Submission, Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Giele, JZ & Stebbins, LF 2003, Women and equality in the workplace: a reference handbook, ABC-CLIO

Gregory, RF 2003, Women and workplace discrimination: overcoming barriers to gender , Rutgers University Press

Klarsfeld, A 2010, International handbook on diversity management at work: country perspectives on diversity and equal treatment, Edward Elgar, pp 28