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Happy International Women’s Day

By Rebecca Vassarotti - 7 March 2017 25

Women's rights

Each year on 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. This day has been designated by the United Nations as a day to reflect on the progress made for equality, a time to call for change in the areas where we have work to do and a chance to celebrate the work done by ordinary women making change in their communities, in their nations and globally to ensure that all citizens of the world reach their potential.

Some people may ask what is relevance of a day such as International Women’s Day in a community like the ACT.

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries. For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers. Women still end their work lives with lower levels of superannuation and stability in retirement and one in three women will suffer violence in their lifetimes. Women with a disability, from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women and lesbian, bisexual or gender diverse women face even more discrimination and structural disadvantage.

In the face of this reality, International Women’s Day also gives us an opportunity to celebrate the amazing women that are working to make a difference in our local community. Each year, the ACT Government recognises these achievements with the International Women’s Day Awards that shine a light on women of courage, conviction and those making the journey easier for the women who follow them. A great way to get inspired is to check out the honour roll of women who have been recognised for the great work they have done in the community, Women like Sue Salthouse who has been a tireless campaigner for the right of women with disability, Hilary Charlesworth AM who was instrumental in drafting the ACT (and Australia’s) first Human Rights Act, Kim Davidson who has worked to support young people from the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community, Sue Packer AM who has spent her professional life to create greater protection for children and Audrey Fagan, the ACT’s first female Police Commissioner.

So, International Women’s Day is an important day for me, and one on which I draw inspiration from  the fantastic work that has been undertaken by women in our community. It’s one where I take stock on the work that still needs to be done, and one where I renew my commitment about what I can do to create an equal community.

And before you ask – International Men’s Day is on 19 November.

What do you think? Is International Women’s Day an important day for you?

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
Happy International Women’s Day
1
Elias Hallaj (aka CB 10:47 am
08 Mar 17
#

As a man, International Women’s Day is an important day for me because it reminds me that we don’t live in an equal society and that many women in my life experience and fight discrimination on a regular basis. I know my privilege eis not everyone’s experience. As a father with five daughters it matters a lot to me personally that my kids get treated fairly throughout their lives and that they grow up to be whatever they want to be.

2
HenryBG 11:38 am
08 Mar 17
#

“women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT”

This kind of statistic is a complete furphy.
I’d love to see people look at spending power, which shows a completely different story – and probably gives a bit of a clue about why male life expectancy is 10 years lower.
The violence statistic is likewise out of context – men are more likely to suffer violence in their lifetimes, and also have triple the suicide rate (which probably relates back to the first point, which is that men on average have far more financial responsibilities – with the resulting stress – than women do.
Women obtain almost 2/3 of university places and health spending on women outnumbers health spending on men by a factor of 2:1.
I’ve forgotten the statistic for workplace deaths, but it is something like 9:1 in men’s disfavour, indicating that nice safe jobs in the Community sector may be preferred by women for a very rational reason.

3
Mysteryman 1:36 pm
08 Mar 17
#

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries.

Please stop perpetuating this myth. Women do not earn less than men for the same work. It’s been proven repeatedly that women are paid the same for the same work. The discrepancy in pay comes from the fact the women often work fewer hours by choice, and don’t have the same qualifications as male counterparts in the same role.

We already have equality of opportunity.

For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers.

I’m sure your familiar with the expression “correlation does not imply causation”. They aren’t being paid less because they are women. They are being paid less because they are in a sector that isn’t highly paid and usually requires no qualifications, or qualifications that aren’t difficult to achieve. Nothing is stopping women from choosing a more lucrative career path.

4
Rebecca Vassarotti 4:35 pm
08 Mar 17
#

Mysteryman said :

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries.

Please stop perpetuating this myth. Women do not earn less than men for the same work. It’s been proven repeatedly that women are paid the same for the same work. The discrepancy in pay comes from the fact the women often work fewer hours by choice, and don’t have the same qualifications as male counterparts in the same role.

We already have equality of opportunity.

For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers.

I’m sure your familiar with the expression “correlation does not imply causation”. They aren’t being paid less because they are women. They are being paid less because they are in a sector that isn’t highly paid and usually requires no qualifications, or qualifications that aren’t difficult to achieve. Nothing is stopping women from choosing a more lucrative career path.

Hi there. Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that I just don’t accept it is a myth. It is an accepted fact that is reported in Australia. Find out more about the reality of the gender paygap here: https://www.wgea.gov.au/addressing-pay-equity/what-gender-pay-gap

5
Rebecca Vassarotti 6:11 pm
08 Mar 17
#

HenryBG said :

“women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT”

This kind of statistic is a complete furphy.
I’d love to see people look at spending power, which shows a completely different story – and probably gives a bit of a clue about why male life expectancy is 10 years lower.
The violence statistic is likewise out of context – men are more likely to suffer violence in their lifetimes, and also have triple the suicide rate (which probably relates back to the first point, which is that men on average have far more financial responsibilities – with the resulting stress – than women do.
Women obtain almost 2/3 of university places and health spending on women outnumbers health spending on men by a factor of 2:1.
I’ve forgotten the statistic for workplace deaths, but it is something like 9:1 in men’s disfavour, indicating that nice safe jobs in the Community sector may be preferred by women for a very rational reason.

Hi there. Thanks for your perspectives and views. The gender pay gap is not a furphy – it is a reality. Yearly analysis identifies the reality that women do on general get paid less than men for the same type of work. Some industries are better than others. If you want to know more about it, have a look at the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equity Agency: https://www.wgea.gov.au/addressing-pay-equity/what-gender-pay-gap.

Regarding the violence statistics, women are much more likely to experience violence in the context of domestic and family violence than men. Further information regarding the prevalence rates, have a look at http://anrows.org.au/publications/horizons/PSS

The rates of male suicide are really alarming, and something that it is important to respond to these. Similarly, a key issue is that fact that men are much less likely to seek medical assistance when they need it – something we need to turn around (health spending is also related to women’s sexual and reproductive health needs). It doesn’t mean we don’t also need to respond to the impacts of gender inequality. Gender inequality doesn’t serve either men or women well.

6
chewy14 8:02 pm
08 Mar 17
#

Rebecca Vassarotti said :

Mysteryman said :

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries.

Please stop perpetuating this myth. Women do not earn less than men for the same work. It’s been proven repeatedly that women are paid the same for the same work. The discrepancy in pay comes from the fact the women often work fewer hours by choice, and don’t have the same qualifications as male counterparts in the same role.

We already have equality of opportunity.

For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers.

I’m sure your familiar with the expression “correlation does not imply causation”. They aren’t being paid less because they are women. They are being paid less because they are in a sector that isn’t highly paid and usually requires no qualifications, or qualifications that aren’t difficult to achieve. Nothing is stopping women from choosing a more lucrative career path.

Hi there. Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that I just don’t accept it is a myth. It is an accepted fact that is reported in Australia. Find out more about the reality of the gender paygap here: https://www.wgea.gov.au/addressing-pay-equity/what-gender-pay-gap

Did you really just link to a agency who’s sole purpose is to perpetuate the belief that there is huge gender discrimination in Australia?

They are the main purveyors of wrong or misleading statistics.

For example, they claim that there is a gender pay gap that begins even for graduates. When the data is interogated, it shows that female graduates work less hours, in lower paying industries and are more likely to work in areas or companies with lower profit motives. ie. Public service, not for profits etc.

They also consistently promote inflated pay gap “headline” statistics that simply compare men and women without any normalisation for actual job, experience, industry, hours worked etc.

Calling them ideological barrow pushers would be being generous.

7
HenryBG 10:59 am
09 Mar 17
#

chewy14 said :

When the data is interogated, it shows that female graduates work less hours, in lower paying industries and are more likely to work in areas or companies with lower profit motives. ie. Public service, not for profits etc.

Statistical shenanigans aside, comparing earnings between the sexes still doesn’t tell you how those resources are distributed.

On average women are spending in excess of what they are earning because they are supported by their husbands.
On average their housing needs are met more via their husband’s efforts rather than their own.
Traditionally, women try to marry “up” so that they can be taken care of in this way. I don’t imagine women in general are going to stop marrying “up” just to make the feminists happy.
Women have a greater focus on casual jobs or other types of jobs that are flexible and/or undemanding because they are far more likely to be spending time at home minding small children.

The pay “gap” is thus an artifact of our social organisation, not a symptom of discrimination in the workplace.

To me, the stand-out issue with regards to sex differences and finances is superannuation. The current system is deeply flawed and structurally inimical to women – on average.
Fix superannuation for couples and you’ll have achieved something. Banging on about a mythical pay gap is just going isolate you from people who prefer their arguments and politics to be rational.

8
devils_advocate 1:25 pm
09 Mar 17
#

*sigh*. Yes, women are paid less than men.

However, that effect falls away after controlling for such factors as hours worked, time spent over a career in and out of the workforce, and the type of work undertaken.

So, the question is whether we, as a society, need to respond to the economic consequences of voluntary choices made by women and families.

9
Michael McGoogan 3:23 pm
09 Mar 17
#

@HenryBG please update the email address associated with your RiotACT account.

10
Rebecca Vassarotti 7:55 pm
09 Mar 17
#

chewy14 said :

Rebecca Vassarotti said :

Mysteryman said :

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries.

Please stop perpetuating this myth. Women do not earn less than men for the same work. It’s been proven repeatedly that women are paid the same for the same work. The discrepancy in pay comes from the fact the women often work fewer hours by choice, and don’t have the same qualifications as male counterparts in the same role.

We already have equality of opportunity.

For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers.

I’m sure your familiar with the expression “correlation does not imply causation”. They aren’t being paid less because they are women. They are being paid less because they are in a sector that isn’t highly paid and usually requires no qualifications, or qualifications that aren’t difficult to achieve. Nothing is stopping women from choosing a more lucrative career path.

Hi there. Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that I just don’t accept it is a myth. It is an accepted fact that is reported in Australia. Find out more about the reality of the gender paygap here: https://www.wgea.gov.au/addressing-pay-equity/what-gender-pay-gap

Did you really just link to a agency who’s sole purpose is to perpetuate the belief that there is huge gender discrimination in Australia?

They are the main purveyors of wrong or misleading statistics.

For example, they claim that there is a gender pay gap that begins even for graduates. When the data is interogated, it shows that female graduates work less hours, in lower paying industries and are more likely to work in areas or companies with lower profit motives. ie. Public service, not for profits etc.

They also consistently promote inflated pay gap “headline” statistics that simply compare men and women without any normalisation for actual job, experience, industry, hours worked etc.

Calling them ideological barrow pushers would be being generous.

I actually just linked you to a formal Gov agency that has been established by the Fed Gov and supported by Govs of different flavors to work to address the real issues of gendered discrimination in the work place. Your comments regarding the community sector display a pretty limited understanding of an industry that requires a range of professional skills, and exposes many workers to vicarious trauma as they work to support people at times of crisis. Having worked in this sector for most of my professional life, its my experience that many trade decent pay, stability in employment tenure and security in retirement because they are dedicated and driven to contribute to their community, not because they are not qualified. The issue is that as a community we don’t value this type is work, and the gender composition of these industries has had a profound impact.

11
chewy14 11:13 pm
09 Mar 17
#

Rebecca Vassarotti said :

chewy14 said :

Rebecca Vassarotti said :

Mysteryman said :

While many people think this is a community where we have achieved equality, unfortunately the data tells us that while we have come some way to creating a more equal community, there is still much work to be done. Even here, women fight to get pay equity as women are paid about 11% less than men in the ACT, and occupy some of our lowest paid industries.

Please stop perpetuating this myth. Women do not earn less than men for the same work. It’s been proven repeatedly that women are paid the same for the same work. The discrepancy in pay comes from the fact the women often work fewer hours by choice, and don’t have the same qualifications as male counterparts in the same role.

We already have equality of opportunity.

For example, the ACTCOSS State of the Community Sector Survey 2016 found that 77% of employees in that sector are female, and one in four were casual workers.

I’m sure your familiar with the expression “correlation does not imply causation”. They aren’t being paid less because they are women. They are being paid less because they are in a sector that isn’t highly paid and usually requires no qualifications, or qualifications that aren’t difficult to achieve. Nothing is stopping women from choosing a more lucrative career path.

Hi there. Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that I just don’t accept it is a myth. It is an accepted fact that is reported in Australia. Find out more about the reality of the gender paygap here: https://www.wgea.gov.au/addressing-pay-equity/what-gender-pay-gap

Did you really just link to a agency who’s sole purpose is to perpetuate the belief that there is huge gender discrimination in Australia?

They are the main purveyors of wrong or misleading statistics.

For example, they claim that there is a gender pay gap that begins even for graduates. When the data is interogated, it shows that female graduates work less hours, in lower paying industries and are more likely to work in areas or companies with lower profit motives. ie. Public service, not for profits etc.

They also consistently promote inflated pay gap “headline” statistics that simply compare men and women without any normalisation for actual job, experience, industry, hours worked etc.

Calling them ideological barrow pushers would be being generous.

I actually just linked you to a formal Gov agency that has been established by the Fed Gov and supported by Govs of different flavors to work to address the real issues of gendered discrimination in the work place. Your comments regarding the community sector display a pretty limited understanding of an industry that requires a range of professional skills, and exposes many workers to vicarious trauma as they work to support people at times of crisis. Having worked in this sector for most of my professional life, its my experience that many trade decent pay, stability in employment tenure and security in retirement because they are dedicated and driven to contribute to their community, not because they are not qualified. The issue is that as a community we don’t value this type is work, and the gender composition of these industries has had a profound impact.

So what you’re saying is that people often choose careers based on more than pure monetary benefits and that job remuneration isn’t solely based on qualifications? I agree.

This isn’t in related to gender discrimination, it’s solely based on choice and the realities of a market economy which runs on supply demand

For example, there’s a reason that FIFO mining workers in WA get paid an exorbitant amount of money for often largely unskilled work. By your definition, these people (mainly men) should be paid a pittance. Are they paid these amounts because they’re men or because of a lack of supply and massive profits? Hmmmm.

Also noting that the WGEA was yesterday complaining about the worst gender pay “gap” being in WA at 24%, you’ll excuse my reluctance in having any faith in what they say.

Perhaps you’d also like to comment on the WGEA’s use of those “headline” statistics as proof of gender discrimination that I’ve mentioned?

Did you know over 90% of the prison population is male? I’m sure the WGEA will be right on it……..

12
TuggLife 10:05 am
10 Mar 17
#

This comment section is a cesspit of Facebook proportions – full of men telling women that inequality doesn’t exist, and unable to understand that the lived experience of many women is very different.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been at home for three of the past six years to care for and feed a baby (you know, in line with the WHO and Australian guidelines). I work in a female-dominated industry, full of women in precarious positions like me, who aren’t in a position to truly unionise and fight for better pay and conditions. To change industry would mean retraining and starting from the bottom again, which I can’t afford to do right now. That makes it a little difficult to pursue a ‘more lucrative’ path.

Society just isn’t structured for working mothers (or working fathers, either, really). I’m supposed to work as though I don’t have kids, and mother as though I don’t work, because I also get asked why I bothered to have kids if I was just going to put them in childcare.

What would you like someone like me to do, exactly?

13
devils_advocate 12:27 pm
10 Mar 17
#

TuggLife said :

This comment section is a cesspit of Facebook proportions – full of men telling women that inequality doesn’t exist, and unable to understand that the lived experience of many women is very different.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been at home for three of the past six years to care for and feed a baby (you know, in line with the WHO and Australian guidelines). I work in a female-dominated industry, full of women in precarious positions like me, who aren’t in a position to truly unionise and fight for better pay and conditions. To change industry would mean retraining and starting from the bottom again, which I can’t afford to do right now. That makes it a little difficult to pursue a ‘more lucrative’ path.

Society just isn’t structured for working mothers (or working fathers, either, really). I’m supposed to work as though I don’t have kids, and mother as though I don’t work, because I also get asked why I bothered to have kids if I was just going to put them in childcare.

What would you like someone like me to do, exactly?

Having children is a choice. The question is whether families should bear the full financial consequences of that choice, or whether that choice should be subsidised by society. The subsidisation may take many forms – through the tax/transfer system, or the myriad of other subsidies that might occur, and through to labour force gender policies.

There are sound arguments on both sides and in the end the answer is probably a question of degree.

14
chewy14 3:55 pm
10 Mar 17
#

TuggLife said :

This comment section is a cesspit of Facebook proportions – full of men telling women that inequality doesn’t exist, and unable to understand that the lived experience of many women is very different.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been at home for three of the past six years to care for and feed a baby (you know, in line with the WHO and Australian guidelines). I work in a female-dominated industry, full of women in precarious positions like me, who aren’t in a position to truly unionise and fight for better pay and conditions. To change industry would mean retraining and starting from the bottom again, which I can’t afford to do right now. That makes it a little difficult to pursue a ‘more lucrative’ path.

Society just isn’t structured for working mothers (or working fathers, either, really). I’m supposed to work as though I don’t have kids, and mother as though I don’t work, because I also get asked why I bothered to have kids if I was just going to put them in childcare.

What would you like someone like me to do, exactly?

I would like you to realise that your choices have consequences for which you are individually responsible for and to realise the reality that everyone, both men and women, make choices to prioritise certain parts of their lives daily. It is simply illogical to think you can have it all.

Our society isn’t set up for people who expect to be immune from the consequences of their decisions with the expectation that they can have all of their wants catered to by other members of society.

15
TuggLife 8:27 pm
10 Mar 17
#

I look forward to having a similar discussion on 19 November – International Men’s Day – about how to juggle a successful career, fatherhood, ‘me-time’ and looking good. You know, ‘having it all’. Or is that a myth for men, too?

Katrine Marçal was right: “The female experience is always separate from the universal.” Thanks for the lesson in ‘othering’.

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