David Campese recently gave us a nice insight into what he thinks about the role of women when he publically questioned why a female journalist would be covering a rugby union tour.
What could a “girl” possibly bring to the table in such a role? What would she know about rugby union - a man’s sport?
Surely to say that a woman can accurately grasp the concept of scrums and line-outs is almost as ridiculous as suggesting that women’s rugby is a real sport.
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The sex wars which erupted in federal parliament last week are only the tip of the iceberg of a deep vein of discontent in society about the difficulties facing both women and men as they juggle work and family.
In an extraordinary 15 minute speech last Tuesday, Australia’s first female Prime Minister gave voice to the silent rage of generations of Australian women.
The rage of grandmothers who wonder, if not for society’s undervaluing of their abilities, if could they have been chief financial officer of a major company instead of running the books of the family business.
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They say a poor tradie blames their tools. For more than twenty years we have been trying to close the gender pay gap and establish a strong female talent pipeline. As it turns out, we’ve been using the wrong tools.
The gender pay gap, at 17.4%, is effectively no closer to being closed than it was twenty years ago, and it starts right at the beginning - a female graduate, on average, still earns $2000 less than a male graduate on entering the workforce. And, of course, the number of women in leadership and management positions remains depressingly low.
Women continue to be disadvantaged. As Anne Summers aptly summarised recently, ‘Women in Australia today work less, earn less and retire with less than men.’
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I propose a new name for those politicians who blame everyone but themselves for voting against marriage equality even though they personally support it. Let’s call them “John Alexanders”.
I’m joking of course, just like John Alexander was joking when he proposed calling lesbian marriages “Navratilovas” and gay marriages “Alexanders” (after the ancient conqueror whose two marriages, by the way, were to women). There’s plenty of other potential names for pollies who say “yes” but will vote “no” – “Chris Bowens” or “Ed Husics” come to mind.
But no-one has deflected quite as comprehensively and self-consciously as John Alexander did on this week’s Q&A.
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Sorry Maria Sharapova but being hot just isn’t enough. The tennis world has lead the way in gender equality, with the current Grand Slam Wimbledon, for example, introducing equal prize money for the men’s and women’s singles titles in 2007.
This is despite the fact the women only play to 3 sets and the men play to 5. Anyone who has ever watched a Grand Slam will agree there is a huge difference between a five-set battle and a three-setter.
Sharapova maintains the equal pay was hard won. “We women have fought so long to get equal prize money,” the Russian champion said overnight. “It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten that. We’re all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger.”
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I sit watching the kids at dinner. Corin is eating his spaghetti with mind-numbing slowness. He has his book secreted on his lap and we are both pretending it isn’t there.
The girls are talking non-stop - our youngest has just started Prep and she’s full of it. There’s a red dot on the page, she explains, and you start at the top and follow the lines and today we did “S”, which is very tricky, Mama!
Then Scout, her older sister, takes up the story: Maddy was mean to Jenny, and Mia told Maddy she should say sorry, but Jenny had already gone off with Sophie. An ordinary family meal played out with some variation in millions of homes every night – except for one difference: sitting opposite me at the other end of the table is not my husband, but my female partner, Sarah.
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The federal Labor government announced on Wednesday of last week that it would “meet it’s responsibilities” to fund equal pay for community workers.
This announcement represents one more step toward wage justice for people working in the sector, whose equal remuneration case has been running for over a year.
It came after intensive lobbying efforts by those same workers and union members, who were emailing, calling and dancing for equal pay in the weeks leading up to this most recent commitment.
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Does Australia need a Quota Law? Most would say ‘no’ – just as they did in Norway when it was introduced. Now that at least 40 percent of board seats on Norwegian Public Listed Companies are held by women, the Quota Law is widely accepted across Norway as a reform ‘they had to have’.
But has it produced a result down the food chain? A recent study has said ‘not at this stage’, questioning if quotas are required at management and executive levels or if the marketplace and gender conscious Norwegian society will address this imbalance.
The Quota Law requiring companies to appoint 40 percent of the under-represented gender to their boards was announced by the Norwegian Minister for Trade and Industry in a conservative government, in 2002 and approved by Parliament in 2003.
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Masculinity is in crisis again, apparently. In a polemic against the contemporary women’s movement, Josephine Asher cries out for men trapped under the weight of feminism and sympathises with our “instinctive hunger for power and purpose”.
Embracing the biological determinism that scientific inquiry dismissed long ago, Asher returns to the false assumption that clearly defined roles for men and women exist independently of culture.
Why fight our physiology? What good is equality if men are miserable? It must be the case, Asher suggests, that we are going against nature.
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Is the pursuit for gender equality sucking life out of relationships?
Instead of harnessing the different qualities of men and women to energise us, we are striving to make men and women equal.
More women are joining the battle for the CEO’s chair and pursuing dominance in their homes and communities. But in the process they’re becoming more like men. And men are becoming… well, less like men.
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If dedicating yourself to a job and having a complete lack of elegance is manly, well then - call me Bruce.
Josephine Asher has plenty of support for her argument that men are becoming less manly and women less womanly. Gender is getting bendier. But is that a bad thing?
Once upon a time men and women had much more well-defined roles. Man works. Woman does housey-type stuff. Now such simplicity is only seen in detergent commercials.
It costs nearly $1 million dollars more to be born a woman in this country. While the average 25 year old male will earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years, the average 25 year old woman will earn only $1.5 million.
Of course there are a number of reasons for this gender pay gap. Women are more likely to work part time, take more time out of the workforce to undertake unpaid caring responsibilities and continue to bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility for unpaid household work.
Traditionally feminised jobs in the caring and community sectors have been historically undervalued and consequently, underpaid.
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What’s it really take to make the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women? All work and no play? Tonnes of money to pay for a nanny if you dare to want a hugely successful career and children?
The Forbes list of powerful women has been running for six years but it has a long way to go before it serves as inspiration for young women looking to go to the very top and have a life – especially one that includes having children.
Yes, Gail Kelly - Westpac CEO and mother of four – is ranked at number eight but scroll down the full “top 25” list and you’ll find that more than half of the power women are over 40 years of age and childless. Oprah is there ranked number three, German Chancellor Angela Merkel too ranked at number four, Ellen DeGeneres is number ten, US Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor is number 19 and the list goes on.
On Tuesday this week, 25,000 Australians delivered a clear message straight to the people who represent them in the nation’s Parliament.
Signing a national petition, nurses, teachers, hospitality and construction workers, uni students, school kids, their mums and dads, their grandparents demanded that their elected representatives stand up and vote for the Rudd Government’s national paid parental leave scheme.
After waiting decades, working families are set to be the big winners when the Government delivers Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme and Australia finally catches up with the rest of the developed world on this vital reform.
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Good on you Adrian Piccoli for finally having the guts to say what so many wouldn’t. For too long men in politics have been judged more on their hair cuts and the choice of their ties than on their ability to do their jobs.
Poor Tony Abbott, with just a smattering of lycra to protect him, has had to suffer sexualised appraisals from the commentariat.
Lindsay Tanner has had to carry on those broad shoulders the burden of being known as “thinking woman’s crumpet.” And as if doing a tax review wasn’t enough to deal with, Treasury Boss Ken Henry practically has groupies.
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The American architect, Philip Johnson, once said “all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”
A trip to the State Library in Melbourne bears testament to that. The glorious reading room, which at the time of its construction boasted one of the largest domes in Christendom, manages to exalt the entranced tourist while cuddle the engrossed researcher all at once.
Yet it is hard to feel cuddled by a building if you cannot get into it. And for millions of Australians with a disability the state of our public built environment prevents them entering or using the bathroom let alone feel stimulated or exalted by the wonder of the architecture.
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Where are the women warriors on Paid Maternity Leave? The most extensive, economically significant policy proposal to support working women in decades is put forward by a major political party… so where are the feminists and women’s groups?
Why is there such a conspicuous silence from those who “whooped” and figuratively threw streamers when the Rudd Government finally announced its Paid Parental Leave plan (which turned out to be little more than a re-badging of the baby bonus with an administrative nightmare for small business thrown in)?
Where are Eva Cox and Sharan Burrows?
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The experiments went like this. Scientists took pairs of people and gave one of them a big wad of money. Then they wired them up and watched what happened as more cash was handed out.
“People who started out rich had a stronger reaction to other people getting money than to themselves getting money,” Colin Camerer, one of the study’s coauthors, told the Freakonomics blog. “In other words, their brains liked it when others got money more than they liked it when they themselves got money.”
The science part: the circuitry of the brain’s reward centres is sensitive to inequality. The basic finding is that regardless of how much money you have, humans respond better to poor people getting money than rich people.
Every now and then life deals you a moment which overloads your emotions.
You’re not sure whether to cry or cheer or run and hide just to catch your breath.
That’s how I felt standing on the sixth floor of NAB’s Melbourne headquarters when watching Kevin Rudd’s apology to my people’s stolen generation.
Lefties and other decent folk are wetting their pants at the prospect of that beacon of excellence Barack Obama and his telegenic family visiting our shores next month.
Since coming onto the public radar, Obama has achieved pop-star status as the great hope for our shared dreams of equality.
But is this really what he represents?
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The fight for gay marriage in the US took yet another blow last Wednesday when the New York state senate voted down a bill that would have allowed same-sex partners to marry in the empire state.
It follows the repeal of gay marriage rights in California last November when voters in a referendum abolished a short-lived law that allowed gay couples to marry there.
The Governator’s state constitution now reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
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Welcome to Wednesday @ The Punch
Today in 2004 Canada’s Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage constitutional, paving the way for it’s Parliament to legalise the practice.
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I don’t have the research in front of me but, anecdotally, I have noticed that women use phones, fly on planes, shop and withdraw cash from ATMs.
If my analysis is correct, you’d think the top brass at Telstra, Qantas, Westfield and the Commonwealth Bank would need to know a fair bit about women – a hefty chunk of their customer base and their workforce – and what makes them tick.
I’ve no doubt that these organisations employ many fine strategists, marketeers and consultants who can provide the kind of research that backs up my casual observations.
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The World Economic Forum recently released their 2009 Global Gender Gap Report, and unfortunately Australia has slipped markedly in the ranks over the past couple of years.
The report measures how equally the resources and opportunities of a nation are divided up between genders.
In 2006 Australia was ranked fifteenth. Now we are twentieth out of the 134 countries included in the report. The Nordic countries topped out the list with Iceland coming first, Finland second and Norway and Sweden were third and fourth respectively. New Zealand retained their position in fifth place.
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In his deservingly scornful review of the book Iron John, Robert Bly’s absurd bible of the men’s movement in the United States, British author Martin Amis describes the comical pilgrimage made by maladjusted men into the American woods to sniff each other’s armpits, channel negative energy into circles of hate and howl at the moon at the fact that mum had them circumcised.
Happily, this quest to unleash what Amis ridicules as “the hairy satyr within” does not appear to have any formal and organised equivalent in Australia.
This is probably because most Australian men have nothing of any real magnitude to get off their chest, or simply find that the odd night at the pub or the occasional fishing weekend provides ample therapy for any lingering sense of gender injustice. That, and the fact that we’ve got too wry a sense of humour and too much self-awareness to engage in anything that silly.
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I read with glee this week the news that the Rudd government is reviewing the role of women in the Defence Force.
For some reason this always gets me riled.
Call me a bra-burning feminist with hairy under-arms and a Subaru if you like, but it appears to me that men don’t want women in the military because they are scared of themselves.
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There is nothing like an Equal Pay Day to make a man see red.
Writing on Tuesday about research that claims women earn 17.5 per cent less than men in Australia, I drew the wrath of blokes from around the country.
That figure came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics but was used by the newly formed Equal Pay Alliance of 135 organisations to make their point.
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Can you believe that in 2009 we don’t allow same-sex couples to get married? It happens in countries all around the world. Not just where’d you expect like Holland and Sweden. But places like Spain and South Africa. It makes Australia look a little behind.
We all have gay mates or rellies who pay their taxes and live by the law.
But when it comes to one of the most important moments of your life - your wedding day - the law says gays are suddenly so different they’re not allowed to have one.
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