Population researcher and demographer Amina Keygan replies to Danny Clark’s controversial column on women “smashing the glass ceiling”. Picture: Stuart Wilson. SINCE Abbott came to power, intense debate has been raging over the lack of female representation in his cabinet, as well as his bold move to appoint himself Minister for Women.
The moves have been heavily criticised both here in Australia and abroad, and are being taken as evidence that gender equality has a long way to go in our country.
More recently, and closer to home, deputy editor of The Advocate, Danny Clark voiced his opinion on the battle of the sexes.
His message was loud and clear (and some might add chauvinistic): women have well and truly won the gender war. The glass ceiling no longer exists. Women dominate. And men have taken to wearing skirts to job interviews.
I read the piece waiting for the punch line. I sought clarification that the opinion was indeed a (poor) attempt at satire. It was not. And I was shocked. This feeling continued as the first comments on Danny’s work appeared via social media feeds, many in favour of his position:
“About time something like this was written” said Cameron. “Thank you, Danny” commented another. “Wonderful, wonderful article” mused yet another.
As the day progressed however, it became clear that the majority of those who commented were as shocked and outraged at the opinion as I was (and most of it I won’t/can’t repeat here):
“Seriously hoping this is an attempt at humour that has gone wrong,” said JD. “Thanks Danny for your middle/dark age views,” commented Sommer, and from Eleana “This whole article is rubbish”.
You know what Eleana, you are right. The opinion was rubbish. And below I have outlined why- using the truth to debunk Danny’s claims.
MYTH: Women dominate all platforms across the business sector at every level.
FACT: In the top 200 ASX companies less than 5% are headed by a female CEO. Only 12% of corporate board directors were women.
FACT: In 2012, the gender pay gap between men and women was 17.6%. That is, women working full time earned approximately $261 per week less than their male full time equivalents.
The gap between male and female wages in Australia has steadily increased over the last 15 years.
FACT: In 2011, the North-West Coast region had the lowest female labour force participation rates in Tasmania. Further, it had the lowest proportion of women in managerial positions.
This, despite the fact it had the second highest proportion (behind Hobart area) of female post-graduates.
MYTH: The glass ceiling has been smashed beyond repair.
FACT: Social research has demonstrated time and time again that women still battle against the glass ceiling.
Women are systematically under-represented at senior levels in Australian politics and upper management positions within corporations.
They are subject to consistent income inequality and as such, in retirement have much lower levels of superannuation increasing their need for government assistance.
Given this context, it is undeniable that the glass ceiling remains quite effective at preventing women reaching the upper echelons of the corporate world.
MYTH: In 2010 4,300 female jobs were created and only 400 male jobs in Tasmania.
FACT: First, what is a “female” job and what is a “male” job? And who decides?
Certainly not the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Status report from where these figures originated.
The report does indeed confirm what Danny argues. In 2010 Tasmanian women occupied almost 10 out of 11 new jobs available during that year.
What Danny conveniently ignores however is that the vast majority of these jobs were created in the retail and community services sectors—female dominated occupations that are characterised by low pay, lack of entitlements and casualisation of their workforces. This further contributes to the gender pay gap I discuss above.
If this weren’t evidence enough (although I truly hope that it is) that gender equality has not been achieved in our region, or more broadly in our state and country, here are two more facts about the status of women in our community.
FACT: For the previous three years women on the North West Coast have experienced the highest rates of domestic abuse in Tasmania. This included verbal, emotional, physical and sexual assaults.
FACT: In 2011, the highest proportion of women in Tasmania living on weekly incomes of $1-$199 (40%) lived on the North-West Coast. The lowest proportion of women living on incomes of $2000 or more (4%) also lived here.
I am a firm believer in the right to free speech.
It is this right that has allowed me to communicate my thoughts and research in response to Danny’s opinion.
Initially, there were several emotive comments I wanted to make regarding his work. I have instead provided the much neglected (and much needed) facts.
I will say this however, in areas where women are statistically and systematically discriminated against, where violence against them is rampant and the glass ceiling is as strong as ever, an opinion such as Danny’s continues the perpetuation of this cycle.
It appeals to the lowly desire to keep women in a position of “less than”.
Read: less than men.
It is my hope, for myself, my children and my community, that when opinions like these are voiced, they will be challenged. That they will not go unquestioned. And that they will provide the foundations and catalyst for change.
Together, as a community, we must strive for equality for all.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.