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Week of February 27th, 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.


Testosterone Rex: It’s time to stop blaming sexism on hormones – ABC News

The notion that the hormone testosterone gives men a natural advantage in risk taking, from bungee jumping to working in trading rooms, is so pervasive it may come as a shock to learn it’s backed by very little recent scientific evidence. The theory that men are more competitive and less risk-averse than women has been around for decades and is often used as justification for why they are better suited for the demands of, say, leadership roles or investment banking. But when psychologist Cordelia Fine delved into evidence from neuroscience and endocrinology for her new book, Testosterone Rex, a very different picture emerged — one which has important implications for tackling sexism and bias in workplaces. Read More

Flexible work arrangements: easy for SES to say, harder for ELs to do – The Mandarin 

The Australian Public Service gender equality strategy has the necessary commitment from senior leaders, but managers further down the line may need more support to make its aspirations a reality. Strong, unambiguous messaging from the top layers of leadership is important for any new workplace policy to have effect, but fine words about “changing culture through leadership, flexibility, and innovation” are really just the beginning. Researcher Sue Williamson, who has just begun a study tracking the new strategy, has already observed “a gap between the policy and implementation which kicks in around the EL2 or EL1 level” in two large APS agencies. She found senior executives have done their part and given strong support to the strategy, but busy mid-level managers are struggling to implement new measures — the new flexible work arrangements that are now supposed to be the default — in particular. Read More

Australians aren’t as Islamophobic as we’re led to believe – ABC News

Over the last few months, several reports have indicated a significant number of Australians hold anti-Muslim attitudes. However, research in the US and Europe shows Islamophobia is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, which is not captured in single-item surveys. For instance, another recent survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US found Australians welcomed diversity as much as Americans, despite some uncertainty over Muslim integration. In a survey conducted in late 2015 and early 2016, a battery of questions were used to ascertain Australians’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. It is the first study that explored the multidimensionality of Islamophobia in Australia. The resulting nuanced and comprehensive profile of Islamophobia in Australia actually showed few Australians are truly afraid of those of Muslim faith. Read More

More women get passed for promotions, told by bosses they need more ‘confidence’, ‘experience’ – Canberra Times 

Women are more likely to be told to display “more confidence” and to get “more experience” by their managers if they want promotions, with new research showing almost 60 per cent of men were promoted twice or more in the past five years compared with only 41 per cent of females. The gap in promotion rates only increases with seniority, according to a study by Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women. The study, Advancing Women in Australia: Eliminating bias in feedback and promotions, based on the responses of 4500 people in business, government and not-for-profit sectors, found that eliminating bias in feedback and promotions was the root cause of the disparity in promotion rates. It found women in line roles in corporate Australia are consistently moving through the promotion funnel at slower rates than male counterparts. Read More

How racism and a lack of diversity can harm productivity in our workplaces – The Conversation

Beyond the requirement for diversity management and training in workplaces, Australian businesses also need to grapple with implicit racial bias and discrimination. A review of multiple studies indicates exposure to racism is detrimental to performance. This is due to its impact on job attitudes, mental and physical health, as well as organisational behaviour. Research also indicates that, by inflicting job stress, racism can reduce productivity. Even where diversity is unrelated to business performance, too much is at stake for companies to simply ignore their team composition. Diversity itself is a demographic fact, rather than an intrinsic “good” or “bad” thing. As such, it is the underlying social, economic and political climate in a country that determines diversity’s impacts in society. Australian workplaces do not yet reflect the level of cultural and ethnic diversity in the broader community. Read More

Concentration of women managers results in higher pay for men – Canberra Times

The gender pay gap women widens when women hold most of the top management jobs. A 10 per cent or more increase in the proportion of female senior executives can narrow the gender pay gap. But if women make up more than 80 per cent of managers, the gap widens again, new research from Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has found. Report author and Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre principal research fellow Rebecca Cassells said the report findings starkly show the different ways women and men engaged with the workforce and how their contributions are valued. “Not only do female-dominated organisations tend to be lower paid, but this analysis shows that in workplaces with heavily female-dominated management teams there are large gender pay gaps in favour of men,” Associate Professor Cassells said. “It seems that where the men are few, they are more highly valued. It is often thought that men are put on a pedestal in environments where they are outnumbered by women.” Read More

The Entry-Level Health Care Jobs Men Are (and Are Not) Taking – Harvard Business Review 

Since the 1970s the United States has shifted away from a manufacturing economy and toward a service-sector economy. This shift has been difficult for many workers, but especially for working-class men. At the same time, there has been a rise in service-sector occupations, many of which are female-dominated health care occupations, such as registered nurses, home health aides, and personal care aides. However, few men are entering these female-dominated occupations, despite high demand for the positions. One reason is because many of these jobs don’t pay well.  In addition, there is stigma around doing “women’s work,” with men being reluctant to take jobs that require tasks that are associated with femaleness, such as hands-on care for an elderly person or child. In many ways, the election of Donald Trump brought this reluctance to the forefront; it is far more appealing to be promised manufacturing jobs than it is to be told you have to do “women’s work.” Read More

No corporate diversity: Captains of Australian business likely to be named Peter or John – Canberra Times

Consider this for a minute: to be a captain of Australian business – that is in a CEO or chair role – you are more likely to be named Peter or John than to be female. We are moving painfully slowly in breaking the glass ceiling, but it’s time we also worry about ending the “bamboo ceiling”. Jane Hyun some years ago coined the phrase in her book focusing on Asians in the workplace, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians, which looked at the slow progress of Asian Americans inside America’s largest companies. New research in Australia being released ahead of International Women’s Day next week, shows Australians from Asian backgrounds, and other non-European backgrounds including Middle Eastern and African descent, are not being promoted into leadership roles. Read More

Time for a new gender-equality playbook – McKinsey

More than 75 percent of CEOs include gender equality in their top ten business priorities, but gender outcomes across the largest companies are not changing. McKinsey’s research indicates, for example, that corporate America promotes men at 30 percent higher rates than women during their early career stages and that entry-level women are significantly more likely than men to have spent five or more years in the same role. Why is gender inequality in the workplace so persistent despite growing attention from business leaders and the media—and what should we all do differently? The research suggests we fall short in translating top-level commitment into a truly inclusive work environment. We see strong evidence that even when top executives say the right things, employees don’t think they have a plan for making progress toward gender equality, don’t see those words backed up with action, don’t feel confident calling out gender bias when they see it, and don’t think frontline managers have gotten the message. Read More