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Week of October 24th, 2016




Welcome to our weekly 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.


Paid parental leave designed ‘to get women back to work’: Social Services Minister Christian Porter – Sydney Morning Herald 

Australia’s paid parental leave system is designed to help women return to work rather than bond with their newborn children, Social Services Minister Christian Porter said on Monday. Defending the government’s plans to end so-called “double dipping”, where mothers receive taxpayer-funded parental leave at the same time as paid leave from their employer, Mr Porter said saving money from high-income earners would make the system more sustainable for others. Currently new mothers have access to 18 weeks paid leave at the minimum wage, plus any additional entitlements paid for by their employer. The government last week introduced legislation limiting access to the government funded scheme, which could come into effect as early as January 1.”We think the best way to find savings is to look at that top part of the scheme, where there are people with very generous employer-funded schemes who are also receiving a full $12,000 amount, which leaves them with an 18-week amount, far in excess of what some people earn in an entire year,” he said. Read More 

The billions we spend on childcare is failing women, the economy and children – Canberra Times

Childcare is more than a household issue. It now plays a crucial role in the Australian economy. What’s more, it is a policy area that, when done well, can boost productivity, reduce social inequalities and promote gender equality. With a trifecta like that, you’d expect it would be at the top of the policy agenda. But strangely, it isn’t. Rather than doing what it takes to craft a childcare system that meets the needs of parents, children and workplaces, successive governments – both Labor and the Coalition – have squibbed on the task. The cost of childcare for Australian families is well above the average among the advanced country members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development we’re often compared with. Out-of-pocket childcare costs absorb 27 per cent of average wages here, compared with the OECD average of 17 per cent, a 2014 Productivity Commission report said. And that’s despite rising government subsidies. Read More

Why Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman – The Guardian 

For the past six years, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index and looks likely to do so again this week. The Economist recently named Iceland the world’s best place for working women – in comparison, the UK came in at No. 24. For centuries, this seafaring nation’s women stayed at home as their husbands traversed the oceans. Without men at home, women played the roles of farmer, hunter, architect, builder. They managed household finances and were crucial to the country’s ability to prosper. By 1975, Icelandic women were fed up. It wasn’t just that they weren’t being properly paid for their labour, they also were sick of their lack of political representation: only nine women had ever won seats in parliament. So, against the backdrop of the global feminist movement, Iceland’s women decided to take things into their own hands. Read More

Australia slips on gender equality, with global pay parity another 170 years away – Women’s Agenda 

Congratulations Australia, we’re now in 46th place on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, one place behind the United States, well behind every country in Europe, and significantly lagging on other parts of the world including Rwanda, New Zealand and Mozambique. We’re down from 36th on the list in 2015, and have managed a steady ten-year decline since taking out the 15th spot in 2006. The pace of change globally has slowed significantly in the past three years, with the WEF reporting that it will take 170 years for for the world to close the economic gender gap completely, significantly longer than the 118 years it predicted last year. We manage the result despite continuing to rank equal first for educational attainment, with our health and safety ranking (72) and political empowerment ranking (61), largely bringing us down. We rank 42nd for economic participation and opportunity. Read More 

Why Women Aren’t Making It to the Top of Financial Services Firms – Harvard Business Review 

Today 47% of management and professional roles in American financial firms are occupied by women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An analysis that  conducted of disclosures made by 50 American financial services companies revealed that women occupy only 20% of executive committee roles and 22% of board positions. Only 12% of the chief executive officers of large U.S. financial firms are women. Career progression analysis also shows that at each level, men are promoted at materially higher rates than women. Women are far more likely than men to leave the industry or to reduce their level of ambition just at the point in their careers when they need to make the effort to push on to the top. As a result, women’s prospects are significantly worse in financial services than in other sectors. Oliver Wyman surveyed 850 financial services professionals from around the world (both men and women), interviewed over 100 senior female executives globally (C-suite and board members), and held focus groups with Millennial women working across a number of financial institutions in the U.S. Responses revealed a culture that has changed surprisingly little over the last 30 years. The overt sexism of earlier times may have been stamped out, but unconscious biases and gender-role expectations that disadvantage women have not. Read More

Driving change: Indigenous women grab the reins and get down to business – The Guardian 

A growing number of social enterprises led by Indigenous women are creating jobs, providing services and bringing communities together. The Bawrunga Aboriginal Medical Service, which opened in 2002, has clinics in Nambucca Heads, Macksville, Gilgandra, Dubbo and an outreach service to Gulargambone. It also has the contract to manage the GP Super Clinic in Coffs Harbour and serves more than 13,000 patients. Bawrunga is one of a growing number of social enterprises founded by Indigenous women. The program manager of Indigenous business education at the University of NSW, Rebecca Harcourt, says there is a flowering of Indigenous-led social enterprises. “There has always been some incredible commitment and leadership around community organisations,” she says. “The idea of Indigenous business is not a dirty word any more – whether that is social enterprise or big business. Business and social enterprise is a way in which you can mobilise change.” Read More

Australia is no longer the home of the ‘fair go’, says report – The Guardian 

A report by the Community Council of Australia has shattered perceptions that Australia is a country of the “fair go”, finding it is less fair, less safe, and with a higher incarceration rate than comparable OECD nations. The Australia We Want report was released on Thursday before a National Press Club address by the council’s chairman and World Vision Australia’s chief executive, Tim Costello. It paints a damning picture of a society characterised by rising inequality, rising suicide rates and above-average carbon emissions. The national incarceration rate increased by 6% to 196 people for every 100,000 in 2015, higher than any country in western Europe. In the Northern Territory imprisonment rates are four times the national average, at 885 for every 100,000, and higher than the rate of imprisonment in the US. The Indigenous incarceration rate was 15 times the national rate, at 2,253 for every 100,000 in 2015. But the indicator the author was most surprised by was perceptions of safety: only 48% of Australian women said they felt safe walking alone at night, significantly lower than the OECD average of 60.6%. Australian men, in comparison, felt safer than the OECD average, with 76% reporting they felt safe at night. Read More

‘He’ vs ‘she’ in Australian media coverage: what the language of news tells us about gender imbalance – The Conversation

A new and large corpus of Australian newspaper articles compiled by linguists at Lancaster University’s Corpus Approaches to Social Science Research Centre can help us investigate the gender imbalance in Australian public life. The collection – consisting of nearly 13,000 articles and close to 7.4 million words – provides an extremely rich data source for studying the Australian media. The data comes from 18 Australian newspapers including The Adelaide Advertiser, The Age, The Australian, The Canberra Times, The Courier Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, The West Australian, The Northern Territory News and The Hobart Mercury, among others. Of nearly 100,000 distinct words used in the collected news articles, “he” was the 16th most frequently used. By comparison, the equivalent female pronoun – “she” – was the 66th most frequently used. “She” turned up 11,765 times, while “he” appeared more than 40,000 times. That makes the ratio of “he” to “she” in Australian news reporting 3.4 to 1. Read More

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