More women needed to improve economy

by Stephanie Zillman21 May 2013

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a toolkit which has been developed to address the problem of too few women entering male-dominated industries.

The toolkit – Women in male-dominated industries: A toolkit of strategies – was launched by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick in Sydney today. Broderick said the underrepresentation of women in industries considered to be male-dominated – such as mining, utilities and construction – was an issue that is not only undermining gender equality in Australia, but is having negative effects on industry performance and our economy. “This is not merely a report, but an interactive website developed to encourage dialogue, engagement and sharing of approaches about increasing women’s representation in male-dominated industries,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“It encourages employers, employees, government, community, and unions to think about the contribution women can make and to actively share strategies for attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing women’s skills in traditionally male-dominated fields,” she added.

In Australia’s general workforce, women represent almost 46% of employees. However, in the industries of construction, mining, and utilities, women account for just 12%, 15%, and 23% of employees respectively. Recent figures suggest that increasing women’s employment rates could boost Australia’s GDP by 11%.

“Australia ranks fourth in the world in talent shortages and many male-dominated industries are suffering a lack of skilled workers,” Commissioner Broderick said. “Encouraging greater women’s participation in these industries is one solution that could go a long way to addressing these skills shortages.”

The toolkit is divided into the areas of attraction, recruitment, retention and development of women’s skills in industries that have traditionally remained dominated by male leadership and employees. “Users can work through or contribute to discussion in all four areas or any of the four that are most relevant to them,” Broderick said.

In developing the Toolkit, the Australian Human Rights Commission, with the support of the Minister for the Status of Women and FaCHSIA, brought together members of these male dominated industries to gather information on their experience and knowledge. The Toolkit can be accessed here.

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