Women working full time in Australia still only earn 82 percent of the salary of a male working full time. How can this be? Well, the answer is, many top jobs are still taken by men only. It’s a trend you’d like to think is changing, but it doesn’t seem to be.
Anna McPhee, who was director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency when she appeared on BTalk in 2008, says part of the problem is the boys’-club mentality common in the Australian workplace. Recruiters will hunt for people who fit-in with the culture, which tends to mean employing other men.
So how do you redress this imbalance? The answer is not with enforced quotas. James Thomson says the most successful business women in Australia share the view that some form of quota system is counterproductive. The change has to come through encouragement.
Perhaps that encouragement can be helped by a little positive discrimination? Kirsty Duncan from car chain Trivetts recently advertised for women to join their sales force. She said women sales and service representative can provide empathy to customers, but women were just not applying for the jobs. An advertising campaign was launched to sell the benefits of working with them, just to women.
In an ideal workforce you would have a mix of both men and women, says journalist Mia Freedman, who has been on both sides of the fence — she left the female dominated world of womens’ magazines to join the blokey culture of TV network Channel Nine.
The problem for women, says Julie McCrossin, is that often they’re too nice. In particular, they don’t interrupt and can be intimidated by the brutality of some business debates and work practices. Yet to reach a level of seniority you need to be able to throw yourself in and show strength.
But if women behave more like men, then the workplace won’t change. Surely it needs to be moderated by the approach women take to achieving outcomes. That means men and women both need to change at work. For a start, that means get rid of the boys’ club culture.