Table of Contents
- Features of Gender Inequality in the Workplace
Earlier this year the Australian Human Rights commission unveiled a new bill proposing that all government contractors have at least 40% of either men or women in their organisation in an attempt to combat gender inequality in the workplace. Under the scheme, contractors that do not adhere to the standards risk losing profitable government work, and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has called for the government to take ‘disruptive action’ and possibly bring the bill into the private sector as well. Now, I’m all for gender equality. I definitely support women seeking to close the gender inequality in the workplace. In this essay I make a deeper analysis of current gender stereotypes and issues as this draconian system that is not only unfair for men, but is also unfair to women.
Features of Gender Inequality in the Workplace
The United States is well known for being ‘the land of the free, and the home of the brave’. Paris is known as the city of love. Australia is known as the lucky country, a place where everyone has a fair go. I think the phrase ‘a fair go’ sums up Australia pretty well. In fact, a survey released in 2006 reveals that 91% of Australians place ‘a fair go’ at the top of their list of values. Gender quotas are against the fabric of our nation because under a quota, 80% of positions will be locked to gender. It is no longer a fair go when one gender gets 40% of the positions for just being born with a different chromosome. Suddenly, its not about how good you are in relation to other people applying to a job; you are locked in to competing with your own gender. And that isn’t even the worst part. The implementation of gender quotas could see unskilled or inferior worked picked to a balance out the books, and by that I’m not exclusively referring to women as well. As well as the issue of competency, some industries don’t have the physical requirements to fulfil quotas. Take the construction industry. 88.3% of the worker are male, leaving 11.3% as female. In this instance is gender quota implemented, the biggest construction firms would snap up those women and downsize the men, effectively creating a monopoly over the business because the time it would take for other smaller local firms to balance out the workforce’s gender composition would have them losing out on lucrative contracts. This would have an adverse impact on our economy and would be detrimental to everyone.
Earlier this year amid claims of a “Boys Club” mentality in the ranks of the NSW Fire and Rescue Brigade has prompted the organization to adopt 50/50 split on new recruits entering the organisation. A reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, Uta Butorac who is a feminist was first ecstatic at the news. But after interviewing some people, her initial reaction did a 180. A lot of them were understandably against the quota. One man proffered a situation to her, stating that “if my child was in a car accident, I’d want the best firefighter to rescue her, not a diversity quota”. Uta thought this was an unfair argument, but later realized that, there was in fact no real way around this, what the man was saying was perfectly fair and true. Senior female firefighters also feared a backlash against female graduates because the men at the station believed they got there on basis of gender and potentially cost a better candidate the job. Even if this wasn’t the reaction, they feared that this thought could always be in the back of a supervisor’s mind and was not the kind of atmosphere that an elite state rescue unit needed. Research from Forbes magazine also indicated 20% of women who were given jobs under a quota system attribute the quota more than their own merit. 70% of the total group interviewed were opposed to even working in an organization using quotas believing they lead to appointment by gender and could lead to other unintended consequences. I mean when the people quotas were designed to help oppose gender quotas, you have to wonder, should we really implement them?
Historically it has always been easier to criticize than to create, and to be fair, I have dished out a lot of criticism on the proposed gender quota. Instead of quotas I think we should follow the example that a highly reputed international form of consultants, McKinsey and Company have set. They have policies in place to assist women with balancing their careers and families and have the support groups in place to help transition more females into the workforce. I believe that we should do a similar sort of thing and help reduce the stigmas around certain jobs so right out of high schools we can get a more balanced gender spread.
Overall, some people may argue that workplaces are sexist, and not enough exposure is given jobs stereotyped to one gender to make a difference. The workplace Gender Equality Agency have trends showing a small but steady increase in the number of women in the workplace since the 2000s. And by that, I Mean all around. I don’t mean women just moving into blue collar jobs, but women moving in managerial roles, executive roles and even into the boardrooms.
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