Majority of female staff have experienced gender-related inequality

by John Hilton27 Oct 2016
Fifty-two per cent of working Australian women have said they’ve experienced some form of gender-related inequality in the past five years in the workplace.
However, only 41% of working men believe they have witnessed inequality directed towards their female colleagues. 
That’s according to the Westpac 2016 Women of Influence Report which surveyed 2,289 people from across Australia, who are currently (or recently have been) in the workforce.
The results found that most common forms of inequality Australian women feel they face isn’t the gender pay gap, but the following:
  • Being expected to do the caring/housekeeping duties (even though it is not part of their job description)
  • Being given less interesting job tasks/duties
  • Being the target of jokes or innuendo 
Women in senior management were the most likely to believe they have experienced a gender-based salary differential (29%) compared to 8% of entry level positions, 11% of mid-senior level employees, 21% mid-level management, and 7% of self-employed/business owners. 
“Gender inequality comes in many different forms; it is more than just a salary – it is a form of subtle sexism,” said Ainslie van Onselen, Westpac’s director of women’s markets, inclusion and diversity.
“Feedback from women suggests Australian workforces are continuing to use gender stereotypes and expectations in employment, which are contributing to the underlying cause of gender inequality.
“This is evident from our research that shows male workers around Australia perceive their female bosses as performing more poorly than male bosses on every metric including business knowledge, achieving results, productivity, communication skills, making a positive change in the workplace and overall performance.”
Indeed, the research found men rate their male bosses 6% higher overall.
This is especially prevalent when asked about allowing colleagues to realise their potential and making a positive change in the workplace, with male bosses rating 9% higher than women.
Moreover, while women are more likely to have said they have witnessed every type of workplace gender inequality directed towards their female colleagues than men, 41% of men believe they have witnessed some kind of inequality. 
After witnessing what they believe to be an incident of gender-related inequality in the workplace, three quarters (74%) of men said they stepped in to address the situation.
Some of the most common actions men said they took were
  • Offering support or assistance to the victim (31%)
  • Voicing concerns to management (22%)
  • Warning others in the workplace of the behaviours witnessed (21%)
 “A lack of awareness can compound the issue of gender inequality itself,” said van Onselen.
“It is encouraging to see that so many people are recognising subtle sexism and gender inequality in the workplace; however more direct action is needed, such as reporting the incident to human resources.” 
The online research took place between 20 and 25 May 2016.


  • by HR 27/10/2016 12:42:38 PM

    Although I have been subject to gender equality throughout my entire working life that is not what I am responding to. I am responding to the proposed PPL changes and interested in the fact that there was no section provided for comment on this.

    the changes to PPL, unless I am entirely misunderstanding what is being spoken about, are to stop double dipping. i.e. stopping women from claiming money from the government and from their employers under an employer PPL scheme. I would have thought that when the government put in this policy/benefit it should have been mandatory that it was only for people who were receiving no other money through an employer scheme and was quite surprised when I heard about double dipping. I liken that to expecting to claim pension/unemployment as well as being paid by an employer. Most companies don't have this 'benefit' and the government has stepped up to the plate and put into place something fair and equitable. Instead of saying this could effect mental health and so forth if they are blocked from double dipping, it should be looked at from the angle of being fortunate to have an employer scheme, and not want to take from both unless the employers scheme doesn't match the governments then they should be allowed to top up, although that scenario would be very few I would venture to say. That is my tax money going to support the government scheme and I am disappointed that anyone double dips in any circumstance not just PPL. Most private companies can't afford to have a scheme, and some just wouldn't want to in the present economy, as well has having to carry the cost of the person not being there for possibly two years. With people double dipping, it inhibits the government in any effort to put the PPL entitlement up. If a government has funds to put in the PPL scheme, then that is excellent however any other tax dollars from the government should go to pensioners who are living below the poverty line in my opinion.

  • by Emily Wells 28/10/2016 2:18:56 AM

    I am not surprised at the research results showing 52% of working Australian women indicated they have experienced some form of gender-related inequality whilst only 41% of working men believe they have witnessed inequality directed towards their female colleagues.

    From my experience there are three reasons for the 11% gap:
    1. Some male workers still have mind-sets that female workers are fair game and/or their role should be the minor or repetitive tasks.
    2. There are still males in the workforce who feel that crass jokes and/or innuendoes is acceptable workplace behaviour.
    3. When they do miss that promotion some female workers like to put forward that the reason for their non-promotion was related to gender, rather than acknowledging their lack of skills, knowledge and experience on that occasion.

    However overall I dislike these types of studies as, although they are beneficial in raising the awareness of the inequality that exists between males and females in the workplace, such studies fail to look at the inequalities that others face in the modern workplace.

    Aboriginals, people with disabilities and those from a non-English speaking background experience greater inequity and prejudice. Additionally as a Transgender women, I can confirm that the inequity and prejudice the LGBT community face is of a far higher percentage than cited in this study. The truly sad part though is those workers that are male and female are equally guilty of imposing this injustice.

    Adopting a Diversity Policy is a fair starting point, however to have a truly equal workplace, diversity has to be whole heartedly accepted, practiced consistently and truly embraced by management and all workers.

  • by Janette 31/10/2016 4:36:41 PM

    Sue absolutely agreed. And it took the place of the previous government baby bonus. So where this 'double dipping' idea has come from is beyond me.

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