Women workforce participation and gender equality in Australia
In recent decades, gender equality in the workplace is an issue that has led to considerable concern. (Example of paper written on the subject)
Women’s particapation into the work force is increasing.Women are increasingly taking leadership roles. Women’s workforce participation in Australia is an economic and social imperative. ( Australian Human Rights Commission 2018). In my research, I am going to examine four papers on the subject to discover the current trends
Fujimoto, Y, Azmat, F & Härtel, CEJ 2012, ‘Gender perceptions of work-life balance: management implications for full-time employees in Australia’, Australian Journal of Management, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 147-70.
This paper reviews the gender perceptions of work-life balance(WLB) by using the ideal worker norm (Bailyn 1993; Williams 1999). The authors state that the main reason which affecting the gender inequity is the ideal worker norm in the workforce in Australia. Therefore, they stand for gender-sensitive management principle and WLB policies to change the ideal worker norm away. The ideal worker norm is that the full-time working male and female need to keep up with their occupation as well as caring for their families. It is problematic and limit the employees working lives and personal lives.
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Based on the concept ‘ideal worker norm’, the authors asked multidimensional WLB questions to the participants. A total of 437 full-time working women employees and men employees were randomly selected to participate in the experiment from different occupations. A total of 245 men and 192 women. The authors used a qualitative method to review gender perception of the employees’ working and non-working life in Australia. They had telephone interviews and an online survey. Their goal was to ensure that each group of sample include at least 40% women. They also gained the information through the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data (2009) to compare with their data. However, they are aware that the approach has certain limitations due to low response from the labour-intensive workers. (i.e. technicians, labourers and machine operators) Thus, they also collected data online by a professional company to get more samples to analyse.
The findings suggested that both women and men affected by the conventional gender roles deeply because of the ideal worker norm. Meanwhile, full-time working women experienced more disadvantage and lack of freedom to arrange their working and non-working roles. Men kept working longer hours and lacked control over their job content. The authors stressed the need to stay away from the ideal worker norm to help in addressing the problem and overcoming gender inequality in Australia. Although it will take time to stay away from ideal worker norm to the organisations they suggest WLB policies and gender sensitive management principles to assist workplace to eventually get rid of the ideal worker norm. This article is helpful to my topic in that female workers indeed are be treated unfairly even though the women are increasingly the participation into the workforce. Although this article discussed both male and female I still notice that no matter what gender inequality exists.
Huppatz, K & Goodwin, S 2013, ‘Masculinised jobs, feminised jobs and men’s ‘gender capital’ experiences: Understanding occupational segregation in Australia’, Journal of Sociology, vol. 49, no. 2-3, pp. 291-308.
In this article, the authors reworked Bourdieu’s “ capital approach” to explore a deeper insight between gender inequality and sex occupational segmentation (Bourdieu 1986). The authors found that both women and men seems likely to work in “own-sex” occupations (Preston & Whitehouse 2004:8). For example, 79% of the employees in health care, social and community service industry were women and 88% of the employees in the construction area were men in 2010 (Australia Government 2011). This article focuses on discussing how the concept of ‘gender capital’ influences the Australian workforce into occupational segregation. It is based on the author’s previous work also using Bourdieu (Huppatz 2009;2012). The authors believe that the concept of gender capital is useful for expanding women’s and men’s movement through occupational segregation. Bourdieu’s concept stated to three types of capital: 1)social capital; 2) economic capital and 3) cultural capital. The authors expand Bourdieu’s concept to know how gender practice results in occupational segregation. They state that ‘gender capital’ could explain for both gender and class processes. Thus they serve this reworking as a theoretical and empirical purpose (Huppatz 2012). They demonstrate that concepts of both masculinity and femininity are a resource that explains the variety of success in the movement in the labour force. Huppatz (2009) argued that feminine should not be identified as female condition and masculine should not be recognised as a male condition. This means that we need to ‘do gender differently’.
The authors draws on a qualitative research to examine men’s gender capital experience and how we utilize maleness ( a male body), masculinity and femininity as forms of capitals. The research was based on in-depth interviews with men employees in gendered industries such as nursing and construction. The interviews was about 60 minutes and the interviewers are female. They asked the participants about the gendered occupational questions by their own experiences. The main limitation of this research is that it might be a unstable discussion because the gendered experience is sometimes contradictive and unstable. Also, there was a very limited sample from men working in ‘feminine’ roles. Furthermore, the article did not mention how many samples they have collected. Moreover, they only selected men workers as samples and it was limited information to achieve a deeper understanding the different perspectives between men and women. However, they aim to explore how men and women express occupational social space. They still provide some useful information to describe the male workers’ gendered experiences.
The findings express that a male body did take some advantage to assist the male workers in promotion to management positions and masculinity leads to greater success in gaining more employment opportunities for them. A construction worker for instance, simply being in a male body is not enough to guarantee promotion. They also found gender limits that many men who work in femininity suffered because of they were doing a feminine job. In conclusion, the author stated that it is important to understand gender capital as the main reason of the continuation of occupational segregation. They demonstrated the advantage of gender capital for men but women in specific occupations and also provided a more detailed approach to occupational choice. This research might not be so useful for my topic but it is an interesting approach as people might think that the occupation segregation is based on gender difference. For example, the nurse should be female or the bus driver should be male. This research found that gender sometimes limited a worker’s career choice and advancement.
Todd, P & Preston, A 2012, ‘Gender pay equity in Australia: Where are we now and where are we heading?’, Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 38, no. 3, p. 251.
The article overviews the trends of gender wage equity, identifying the current situation of declension of gender wage ratio in Australia. The authors analyze the gender wage gap according to state, industry, and labour market position, examine the key trends labour market indicator, and conclude the future prosects of gender wage gap (GWG). Fair Work Act 2009, the first equal remuneration rule to protect the workers especially low-wage workers. Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 to improve reporting requirements for employees. The authors are concerned that gender pay equity related to improve work and family outcomes. Women’s wage equity is central to good work-and-family and unfairly and inequality pay will not remain women’s workforce participation. Gender wage gap is used to be a tool measuring the status of women in the workforce and now is a global phenmenon that we are now experiencing the worst GWG. The authors argued that the calculation of gender wage gap ignores the real total earnings and excludes the 46% of part-time women employees. They drew the research by gaining the database from ABS data and combine their data to analyse the issues.
They noticed the trends in public and private sectors. During the period 2006 and 2011, full-time women employees wages grew slowly in the private sector, both to the men workers in the private sector. At the same time, women and men workers in the public sector, clearly have worsened in the gender wage gap. Meantime, the Australian labour force continues to experience a high segregated labour force by occupation and industry. For instance, most management positions were operate by men and women dominate among community and personal-service sectors (ABS 2011). There are also vast differences in the GWG between the States. Although women’s participation in the labour force continues to be increased, hourly wage for women workers has increased only 24 per cent for the past 20 years (Healy&Webster 2012). This article outlined several positive developments within the Australian regulatory authority. For example, the Fair Work Act 2009, Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012, and the Paid Parental Leave Act2010. The Australian Government seems to improve the gender pay equity but tends to prefer tangible goal to achieve in the short term instead of reducing the GWG.
In conclusion, the authors states that the policy makers should be concerned about the gender wage gap as a priority issue. Gender pay equity has worsened rather than improving. They also noted in the article that gender inequity occurrs in many ways, the outcome in the public and private sectors, between industries, between States, and the status of the employment even graudate earnings. Despite the labour market desires to increase women’s participation into workforce, the authors remain unconvinced since that gender pay eqiuty is such a high prior issue for the Australian Government. In my point of view, there are some positive changes in recent years. However, the gender pay inequity seems to still be deeply rooted. The authors provided much relevant information to my topic and analysed the issue. Therefore, I think this article is useful to my research topic.
van Gellecum, Y, Baxter, J & Western, M 2008, ‘Neoliberalism, gender inequality and the Australian labour market’, Journal of Sociology, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 45-63.
The authors review the influence in gender inequality since the Australian labour force has experienced policy changes since mid 1980s. The authors aim to review the patterns of gender inequity in the Australian labour market over the period. Since 1980s, neoliberalism has increased. The neoliberal approach advocated a reduce role of government and an increased the role of market-driven solutions designed to create a “free market” environment (O’Connor et al. 1999). “Australian settlement” (Buchanan&Watson 2001) established of various policies and state based structures to work to reduce gender discriminiation in the labour force because gender inequality was a key feature. They also introduced Auatrlian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) is to encourage the employers and the employees to negoitate the “ flexibility” in the workforce and it would benefit to women because it allowed the employees to discuss the working arrangement with the employers (Wailes& Lansbury 1999). An ABS business survey in 2004 illustrated that women’s average earnings on AWAs are below the average earnings of women on enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs).
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The research data information was based on the databases of the Auatrlain Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which is more reliable and accurate. Since 1983 workforce participation has increased slowly (ABS 2005:Characteristics of the labour force). During 1978 to 2004, female work force participation has increasde by 12.1 percentage. Middle-age married women particularly increased in the labour force ( ABS 2005: Charateristics of the lablour force). Almost a third of women worked part-time in 1978, and has grown to 42.9 percent by 2004. Casual employment has becoming an important form in the labour market especially young people and women would prefer a casual employment. Therefore, gender as a proportion controlling the casulisation trends. The gender gap in earnings is definitely an existing problem in Australia. The clearly time between 1994 and 1999, women’s earnings decreased beacause men’s average hourly rate grew.
Recently, the gender gap growth still exists but slowly down, low wage work for women decreasing but increasing number men in low paid labour market have been moved into low wage traditional feminised jobs ( Hall 1999:9). The average working hours in Australia keeps growing (Pocock 2003:20). Women working long hours grew from 10% to 19%, it might relate to women increasingly particapate in professional and management positions (ABS 2003: People working very long hours). Australia features high gender segregated work force even though the growth of female work force paricipation. In conclusion, the study has been examined gender inequality in Australian labour market. They found that gender inequity in the work force are mixed even have worsened over this period. Overall, sex occupational segregation increased, a larger increase of women’s employement, part-time and casual employement increased and women employees in low skill industries are not treated fairly especially in private sector. These results show a complicated situation for gender inequality in the work force. Although the reaserch background is quite old the issues which the authors discuss is still existing recent years. In my opinion, this article is still useful to my topic and the authors did provide some useful information about gender inequality to fit my topic.
After analysis, I reflected the findings on my research and found the similarities between those articles. Although Australian women have made significant strides towards equality with men they are not treated as what they deserve.
Australian workforce remains highly segmentation by gender and female-dominate industry such as age care, child care and community service has been undervalued. Moreover, Australian women spend lots of time performing unpaid work. For example, taking care of children, family or disability. These are evidenced that gender inequality still exists deeply rooted. This situation also exists in other countries especially Asian countries. In my opinion, women into workforce and gender equity is an global issue and needs to be more concerned.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003. ‘Australian Social Trends Work – Paid Work: Longer Working Hours.’ Available at:
- <http://Www.Abs.Gov.Au/Ausstats/Abs@.Nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca2568200019 2af2/F46f5073e7cd46e4ca256d39001bc354!Opendocument. Australian Bureau of Statistics>.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005. ‘Labour: Labour Force.’ in Year Book Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Government Equal Opportunity For Women in The Work Place Agency 2004. ‘About Equal Opportunity: Key Agenda Items.’ Available at: http://Www.Eowa.Gov.Au/About_Equal_Opportunity/Key_Agenda_Items.Asp.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, 1220.0: ANZSCO – Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. New Zealand, Commonwealth of Australia.Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1220.0.
- Australia Government, 2011, Australia Jobs 2011, Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
- Bailyn ,L, 1993, Breaking the Mold: Women, Men, and Time in the New Corporate World. New York: Free Press.
- Buchanan, J & I, Watson, 2001, ‘The Failure of The Third Way in Australia: Implications For Policy About Work.’ Competition and Change p51-p37.
- Bourdieu, P, 1986, ‘The Forms of Capital’, Handbook of a Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education, trans, R, Nice, pp.241-258 in J.E. Richardson (ed.), New York: Greenwood Press.
- Hall, R, 1999, ‘Gender Equity and Enterprise Bargaining.’ Workplace Equity in The New Millennium Conference. 24 June 1999, Monash University: National Key Centre For Industrial Relations.
- Huppatz, K, 2009, ‘Reworking Bourdieu’s “Capital”: Feminine and Female Capitals in the Field of Paid Caring Work’, Sociology 43(1):45-66.
- Huppatz, K, 2012, Gender Capital at Work: Intersections of Femininity, Masculinity, Class and Occupation. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
- O’Connor, S, Shaver, Shola ,O, 1999, States, Markets, Families: Gender, Liberalism, and Social Policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and The United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Pocock, B, 2003, The Work/Life Collision: What Work Is Doing to Australians and What to Do About It. Annandale, N.S.W.: Federation Press.
- Preston, A & G, Whitehouse, 2004, Gender Difference in Occupation of Employment in Australia, WEPAU Working Paper No.36 Bentley, WA: Curtin University.
- Wailes, N,& Lansbury, D, 1999, ‘Collective Bargaining and Flexibility: Australia.’ Available at: http://www.Ilo.Org/Public/English/Dialogue/Ifpdial/Publ/Infocus/Australia/Ind ex.Htm. International Labour Organisation.
- Williams, J,1999, Unbending Gender: Why Work and Family Conflict and What to do About it. New York: Oxford University Press.
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