Glass ceiling holds strong

WHILE WOMEN are well educated and gain valuable skills in the workplace early in their careers, this hasn’t translated into leadership and management roles based on merit or performance at more senior levels, according to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward

WHILE WOMEN are well educated and gain valuable skills in the workplace early in their careers, this hasn’t translated into leadership and management roles based on merit or performance at more senior levels, according to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward.

“While some women and organisations can hold their head up high, it dumbfounds me that in this day and age we are still calling for greater numbers of women to be appointed to senior leadership roles, whether in business or politics,” she said.

A January 2006 Income and Wealth report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) found that educated young women are getting more job opportunities than ever before, while other women are heading back to work in larger numbers. But this hasn’t translated into women being appointed to powerful, decision-making roles.

Despite their significant presence in the private sector workforce, women hold only 10 per cent of executive management positions (compared with 16 per cent in the US and 14 per cent in Canada) and women hold only 9 per cent of board directorships (compared with 14 per cent in the US and 11 per cent in Canada).

In the public sector, ex-federal Cabinet Minister Kay Patterson’s recent call for more women to be appointed to the ministry highlights the lack of women in senior political roles (only 35 per cent of senators are women and a mere 25 per cent of MPs in the House of Representatives are women).

“I would have thought it was a no-brainer – if you’re the best qualified person for the job you should be promoted to the position, regardless of your sex,” Goward said.

“But these statistics indicate that gender is still an issue in senior level appointments.”

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