themaygr_ 6 – 24 March, 2017 | The May Group
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6 – 24 March, 2017



Welcome to our  news, research & resources round-up, where consultant Hannah E. Lawson shares the latest collection of news relevant to gender, diversity & inclusion in Australia and the World.


Performance in mixed-sex and single-sex tournaments: What we can learn from speedboat races in Japan – VOX

Regardless of their stage of development, most economies exhibit significant gender gaps in wages and other labour market outcomes. A growing number of studies explore whether or not such gaps might be due to gender differences in attitudes to competition or to risk. However, economists have not yet reached consensus about whether observed differences in economic preferences are innate, or instead differ across the environments in which men and women find themselves. If they are not innate, then policy may play a role in reducing gender gaps in labour market outcomes. Experimental studies have found the competitive choices made by men and women differ according to whether they are competing against men or women. Read More 

Tasmania’s top mandarins get together to understand unconscious bias – The Mandarin 

Efforts to avoid unconscious bias in recruitment and improve gender equality at senior level have brought together the secretaries and deputy secretaries of all Tasmanian State Service agencies in a group professional development session for the first time in 15 years. The list of potential cognitive biases that have been described by scientists over the years is frighteningly long but in the case of gender inequality in employment, the key culprit is affinity bias, according to academics Melissa Wheeler & Victor Sojo. For Tasmania’s top mandarin Greg Johannes, it was “both confronting and rewarding” to look closely at how cognitive biases are likely to have skewed his own decisions in the past. Read More

It’s time to talk about six-hour days and four-day working weeks – Women’s Agenda

We love working in Australia so much that we do it better than most other developed nations, with each of us averaging around 44 hours a week. Now after years of  writing about all the interesting things Nordic countries do to shift the status quo on how we work, Angela Priestley is pleased to see the merits of shorter working days and weeks finally being discussed in Australia also. That discussion’s being started by the Greens party leader Richard Di Natale, and it’s happening at the National Pres Club today where he plans to kickstart a conversation about the future of work. Di Natale believes a good portion of Australians want to work less, and that we need to shake up how we think about the working week in order to better address wellbeing and trends in automation. Read More 

Too Many Men Are Silent Bystanders to Sexual Harassment – Harvard Business Review 

Two U.S. Naval Academy professors were blindsided and demoralized by news this month that a substantial group of male Marines had posted unauthorized and compromising pictures of female colleagues, ostensibly their sisters-in-arms, to a Facebook page where other men, including thousands of current and former Marines, made derogatory and harassing comments. Some of them made allusions to sexual assault and rape. They believe there are two common threads through all of these stories. First, a few men are objectifying, disrespecting, and harassing female colleagues. Second, and far more troubling, lots of men are bystanders, silent and impotent in the face of a toxic workplace. Read More

Interculturalism: how diverse societies can do better than passive tolerance – The Conversation 

Western liberal democracies are again embroiled in debates about the value of multicultural policies. In Australia, the federal government has just released its own statement on multiculturalism. The current debates are unfolding in the context of the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the rise of far-right parties like One Nation. In Australia, such debates have historically conflated multiculturalism – a term that describes the policy framework established in the 1970s and 1980s – with the idea of racial or ethnic diversity. Four decades after the end of “White Australia”, however, diversity is simply an established – and irreversible – social fact. When the debate on immigration is added to the mix, the result is a tangled mess of issues that can be difficult to tease apart. One result of this conceptual confusion is that policy debates about immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism often escalate into toxic arguments. At their most trenchant, they have turned into arguments for cultural supremacy – including the idea that certain groups of Australians should not have access to rights enjoyed by other citizens.In Australia, most common strategies for countering “us and them” sentiments consist of public statements defending “multiculturalism” and immigration. But these strategies reinforce the conflation of multicultural policy and cultural diversity. This leaves little room to challenge the assumptions of multiculturalism without being seen as challenging diversity itself. Yet, in the last ten years or so, an important new policy framework has emerged in the northern hemisphere. It’s one that might help Australians debate these issues without descending into rancour. Read More

Why a ‘blokey’ Tasmanian department got an anti-discrimination exemption – The Mandarin 

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment is already seeing more women join its ranks and move into senior roles as staff work through a slightly controversial plan to improve gender balance, which was only finalised last October. There’s 33% more women on the executive, 15% more female senior executive officers, and 4% more women in managerial roles with salaries over $100,000 compared to June 30, 2015, which is about when DPIPWE leaders started looking at increasing the gender diversity of its ‘blokey’ workforce. One step from the action plan — setting aside a very small number of management cadetships for women — made the front page of the local tabloid, which focused on the fact that DPIPWE had to get an exemption from the state’s anti-discrimination commission to run the small number of female-only cadetships, suggesting this set a precedent for more positive discrimination in the state service. Read More

Lots of Companies Still Have No Senior Executives Who Are Women – Harvard Business Review 

It’s not a secret that women’s progress into senior leadership roles has been glacially slow. It was once thought that this was simply a pipeline problem, and that as more women went to college and entered the paid workforce, we would see C-suites and corner offices gradually fill up with females. That hasn’t happened. Since 2004, the global tax, auditing, and advisory firm Grant Thornton has surveyed people around the globe — this year it interviewed more than 5,000 people from 36 countries — to track the progress women are (or are not) making into senior leadership roles in their companies. Looking at the data, what’s immediately clear is how little progress there has been. In 2017 women make up 25% of senior executives in the thousands of companies covered by the survey. That hasn’t changed much in the past 13 years, and what change we have seen has been driven by a handful of countries. Read More