Sunday, 1 July 2018

Hon Dr Sharman Stone article for MV MV 2017

Hon Dr Sharman Stone, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls.  
Article included in the 2017 My Vote My Voice Program
Any discussion about achieving gender equality in political representation, or women’s economic empowerment, or the elimination of gender based violence, is a most important conversation to have. As the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, I work to try to facilitate these outcomes, in particular in the Indo Asia Pacific region, but also at home.
Achieving gender equality is essential from a human rights perspective. Being born a girl should not mean she has diminished life chances. But research also shows that there is an increase in an economy’s productivity when women are educated and participate more equitably in the workforce. Shareholder value also increases when there is greater gender equality and diversity on a corporate board or in senior management. The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has also stressed the critical contributions of women and women’s organisations in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building.
In order to see Australian women and men equally sharing the policy making, resource allocation, responsibilities and bounties of our nation, we need to know why women experience a 15% pay gap for same work as men, are likely to have less than half of men’s superannuation at retirement, are hugely underrepresented as senior managers, CEOs and Board members in the private sector, are less than 15% of our Defence Forces, under 30% in our parliaments, are not evenly distributed in our highest earner or most commended lists and are under-represented in our media.
We are often told that not enough women: “put their hands up”, or know how to negotiate for higher pay or promotions, they talk too much or too little. Some women take time off to have babies, so they are less work-place committed and reliable, they are preoccupied juggling family and work, women don’t network well and are not connected into the most influential networks, women who crash through glass ceilings pull up the ladder behind them and measures such as quotas or reserved places for women or minorities will “dumb down” or destroy our “meritocracies” Catherine Fox in her recent book decries the notion that it is women who are to blame, as she systematically debunks the stereotypes and myths. (Stop Fixing Women: Why Building fairer workplaces is everybody’s business. Newsouth, 2017) She refers to all the research now completed: “… the great boon of having so much data available is that it makes it harder to argue that gender imbalance is simply the result of inherent deficiencies, or individual choices about jobs and caring”, (Stop Fixing Women p.116}. 

We need to abandon the deficit theories about why most women fail to be as successful as most men and instead strive to grow a more just society and a more productive, capable workforce. To do this we need men, as well as women to embrace and champion the cause. That requires many candid conversations.                                                                                                       24.08.2017