Gender parity in Australia

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Bain & Company have just released a brief titled “Level the playing field: A call for action on gender parity in Australia”.

The key findings are:

  • Australian men are 1.4 times more likely to believe that gender parity should be a strategic priority than men surveyed in the US and Europe
  • 9 in 10 women and 7 in 10 men believe that gender parity should be a strategic business imperative for their company
  • However, this strong belief has not translated through to a perception that women have equal opportunity to be selected for senior leadership positions
  • Only 1 in 5 women and 1 in 2 men believe that women have equal opportunity to be promoted to senior management positions

In their brief Bain & Company (opens PDF) argue that companies can take three measures to close the gap – and create a stronger talent pipeline:

  1. show a real commitment to gender parity
  2. lower the cultural barriers
  3. have a persistent approach to change management

This is all very well and nicely aspirational. But what are we to make of it, when (as apparently happened recently in Sydney at a women in business event) the male CEO of a large Australian organisation notes that, women do better in the Public Service because they have family friendly work hours and private industry does not.

There is some serious old-fashioned 1970s style consciousness raising that needs to go on at executive and board levels in this country. Surely nobody wants their own daughters and granddaughters to suffer inequitable access in business?

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Girl Develop IT Sydney launches successfully #ozgdi

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Girl Develop IT Sydney kicked off well last night with thirty eight students, led by the indomitable Pamela Fox and a number of teaching assistants.

Women from all sorts of jobs and backgrounds came along to grapple with the basics of web development – with the youngest still in high school.

The first session covered the basics of HTML and history of the web. Next sessions are:

Class 2: HTML Advanced Tags – Wednesday, Oct. 20
Class 3: CSS Selectors & Properties – Monday, Oct. 25th
Class 4: CSS Layout – Wednesday, October 27th
Class 5: Final Demos – Monday, November 1st

Google’s offices in Sydney are a great venue – kudos to them for supporting this initiative.

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Inspiring: Girl Develop IT #becauseiamagirl

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One thing I’m passionate about is the possibilities opened up for all of us by technology. And techincal literacy is an important way that we can open up those possibilities for women.

Another thing I’m passionate about is people who make a difference – those who get up off the sofa and take action. Sara Chipps is someone who has seen a need and taken action with her Girl Develop IT program, as she explains:

It can be intimidating for women to learn and ask questions when they are in an extreme minority. While open and welcoming, today’s budding developer community is up to 91% male. There isn’t a comfortable place where women can learn at their own pace and not be afraid to ask “stupid questions.”

We decided it was time to provide a place where all questions are OK and everyone can learn in a supportive environment. Our courses focus on coding, leveraging existing technology, and having something to show for it (aka building sweet websites).

And in Australia Pamela Fox has been inspired by Sara’s lead and is setting up a local version of Girl Develop IT in Sydney.

Kudos to Sara and Pamela for getting off the sofa and doing something to help build up technical literacy for women and girls.

This all fits rather nicely into the Plan Australia Because I am a Girl campaign:

You Can Help Change the World

Plan International says “There’s no greater enemy of inequality than keeping quiet!”

Act now! Spread the ‘Because I am a Girl’ message throughout your network of family, friends and colleagues.

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now …

  • Share your story here
  • Inform people about the campaign through your websites, newsletters, emails and other touch points. Plan can provide you logos and information on the campaign.
  • Host lunches with friends, partners and clients. Depending on the event Plan can provide content and speakers.
  • Plan can work with you to see how your business can build awareness among your customers and suppliers.
  • You can donate to Plan in Australia’s GirlsFund, that works to address the unique obstacles faced by girls.
  • You can sponsor a child with Plan. Over 48,000 individuals and businesses in Australia sponsor children with Plan.  Plan uses funds through child sponsorship to support projects that bring lasting change to a child’s entire community, such as gender equality.
  • For more ways on how you can support the campaign visit Plan Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ website
  • Because I am a Girl Facebook Group
  • Twitter: @invest_in_girls
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Help a girl and you help a family, a village and the world #becauseiamagirl

becauseiamagirl
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I’ve been a big supporter of the Plan Because I am a Girl campaign – if you haven’t shared your story do it now!

The other day @uskovic shared this video about the Girl Effect with me:

 

You Can Help Change the World

Plan International says “There’s no greater enemy of inequality than keeping quiet!”Act now! Spread the ‘Because I am a Girl’ message throughout your network of family, friends and colleagues.

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now …

  • Share your story here
  • Inform people about the campaign through your websites, newsletters, emails and other touch points. Plan can provide you logos and information on the campaign.
  • Host lunches with friends, partners and clients. Depending on the event Plan can provide content and speakers.
  • Plan can work with you to see how your business can build awareness among your customers and suppliers.
  • You can donate to Plan in Australia’s GirlsFund, that works to address the unique obstacles faced by girls.
  • You can sponsor a child with Plan. Over 48,000 individuals and businesses in Australia sponsor children with Plan.  Plan uses funds through child sponsorship to support projects that bring lasting change to a child’s entire community, such as gender equality.
  • For more ways on how you can support the campaign visit Plan Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ website
  • Because I am a Girl Facebook Group
  • Twitter: @invest_in_girls
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    Rethinking a girl’s place in the world #becauseiamagirl

    becauseiamagirl
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    Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky investigates the oppression of women globally. Half the Sky lays out an agenda for the world’s women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

    Her stories are confronting. Only when women in developing countries have equal access to education and economic opportunity will we be using all our human resources.

     

    You Can Help Change the World

    Plan International says “There’s no greater enemy of inequality than keeping quiet!”

    Act now! Spread the ‘Because I am a Girl’ message throughout your network of family, friends and colleagues.

    Simple Things You Can Do Right Now …

    • Share your story here
    • Inform people about the campaign through your websites, newsletters, emails and other touch points. Plan can provide you logos and information on the campaign.
    • Host lunches with friends, partners and clients. Depending on the event Plan can provide content and speakers.
    • Plan can work with you to see how your business can build awareness among your customers and suppliers.
    • You can donate to Plan in Australia’s GirlsFund, that works to address the unique obstacles faced by girls.
    • You can sponsor a child with Plan. Over 48,000 individuals and businesses in Australia sponsor children with Plan.  Plan uses funds through child sponsorship to support projects that bring lasting change to a child’s entire community, such as gender equality.
    • For more ways on how you can support the campaign visit Plan Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ website
    • Because I am a Girl Facebook Group
    • Twitter: @invest_in_girls

    Thanks to my friend Alli for putting me on to the Half the Sky video.

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    Because I am a Girl

    becauseiamagirl
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    There are a lot of women who don’t like to be called a girl. It’s their choice. I don’t mind it and have even been known to refer to myself as a girl – usually as a geek girl.

    The interesting thing here in Australia is that I’m pretty much free to call myself whatever I like. And I’m free to do pretty much whatever I want. But it is not like that for women and girls in every part of the world.

     

    You Can Help Change the World

    Plan International says “There’s no greater enemy of inequality than keeping quiet!”

    Act now! Spread the ‘Because I am a Girl’ message throughout your network of family, friends and colleagues.

    Simple Things You Can Do Right Now …

    • Share your story here
    • Inform people about the campaign through your websites, newsletters, emails and other touch points. Plan can provide you logos and information on the campaign.
    • Host lunches with friends, partners and clients. Depending on the event Plan can provide content and speakers.
    • Plan can work with you to see how your business can build awareness among your customers and suppliers.
    • You can donate to Plan in Australia’s GirlsFund, that works to address the unique obstacles faced by girls.
    • You can sponsor a child with Plan. Over 48,000 individuals and businesses in Australia sponsor children with Plan.  Plan uses funds through child sponsorship to support projects that bring lasting change to a child’s entire community, such as gender equality.
    • For more ways on how you can support the campaign visit Plan Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ website
    • Because I am a Girl Facebook Group
    • Twitter: @invest_in_girls
    Share

    Call for Papers: Haecksen Miniconf LCA2011

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    The folks over at LCA2011 are running a Haecksen miniconf and have issued a call for papers closing on 24 September 2010 …

     

    “The Haecksen miniconf is on again! This year, linux.conf.au is going to be held in sunny Brisbane, and we want to invite women who develop, administer and play with FLOSS to come and join us again at the miniconf.

    Important: The CFP closes at midnight 24 September 2010. Selected talks will be announced early in October. That’s not much time, so get cracking!

    We’re attempting to mix it up a bit this year, so we’re looking for people willing to give long talks like normal (20 or 40 minutes), but we are also after lightning talkers, panel experts, and hands-on demos.”

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    Women: The State of Play via APESMA #equalpayday

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    APESMA 2009-10 Women in the Professions Survey Report has just been released and it contains some sobering reading about how women are still treated unfairly and inequitably in the workplace.

    As noted on the APESMA site:

    • Nearly 70% of respondents said that taking maternity/parental leave – including unpaid leave – was likely to be detrimental to their career, despite legally having access to these provisions.
    • Disturbingly, nearly 40% of respondents stated that they had been bullied and 38% discriminated against in the course of their employment. Nearly 20% reported that they had been sexually harassed, although only one fifth of those had reported the incident through official channels. Reports of sexual harassment and discrimination were higher in male-dominated industries.
    • 47.4% of respondents said that their career progression had been affected by workplace culture.
    • And nearly one quarter of respondents expected that they would leave their profession within five years.

    The real question is what we are going to do about this. So many women seem to believe that the fight for equal pay and fair treatment at work is over.

    But is not over. And each of us needs to decide what action we will take to make the workplace a better, safer and fairer place for the women who come along after us.

    Equal Pay Day is 4 September 2010 – why not start with that?

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    Hard work! Aligning organisational values and behaviour

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    Alignment of articulated and enacted values in business

    The issue of how well an organisation’s values align between what they say they are and what they actually do in practise was illustrated very graphically by a large software company this past week. It also shows how difficult it is to get all parts of a large organisation to act in the same way on the same issue. The news coverage aggregation via Google is fascinating to review.

    In that case we see an organisation that has articulated a particular value – diversity – very strongly. It has successfully enacted this value in many ways and places within the organisation and is seen as a leader in the broader community. And yet there still remained a pocket of that organisation that did not see how that value did not align with some planned promotional activities.

    As a former manager within large corporations I know how challenging it can be to get the values enacted across the entire organisation. And I have a great deal of sympathy for Microsoft and their recent predicament. It could happen to any of us.

    But their predicament did get me thinking about how this kind of thing could be prevented in future, and how other organisations could learn from this.

    Blame is not the answer
    Hardly anyone wakes up in the morning thinking that they want to head into the office and damage the company’s reputation. Mostly these things result from misunderstanding what is required or not perceiving that an action might be considered badly by external stakeholders.

    Blaming the individuals who make a mistake does not really help. It can make them into passive-aggressive rule followers or ensure they feel hard done by and leave. Firing them also sends a bad message. It tells other people that mistakes are not tolerated, and stops everyone from feeling safe to take action.

    Turning the mishap into a corporate story or parable is useful
    Putting the learnings from a mistake into a corporate policy (while making some feel better) generally does nothing much to change behaviour.

    The trick is getting the learning into the culture and translating it into practice. One good way of doing this is to create a corporate story or parable that illustrates what happened, the results, the key learnings and the principles to apply to avoid similar mistakes in future.

    Then the parable needs to become part of the leadership narrative and is used create awareness of the values and how they should be enacted. It is much easier for people to remember story than a policy.

    To get the story out it is necessary for business leaders (formal and informal) to use the story to illustrate how the value applies in real life. Some insights into how this can happen are:

    Don’t forget Enron!
    They had some of the nicest sounding values you could list and put on a pretty poster. But clearly none of those values were enacted in a meaningful way.

    There is nothing that makes corporate values seem more real than people seeing leaders within the company apply them daily as part of doing business.

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    Some thoughts on women, management & work #wmwc

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    I’m lucky enough to be attending the Women, Management and Work Conference in  Sydney today. There is a great turnout, with many familiar names and faces from around Australia.

    So far there has been an impressive line-up of speakers.  Yet these impressive speakers each talked about the issues around gender pay equity (which does not exist here in Australia yet). They also touched on the changing nature of work and patterns of work – since many of us no longer work in the same field from beginning to end of our careers.

    Paid parental leave was also touched upon – Heather Ridout noted how important she sees this issue for business.  I agree, this is one area that is critical to driving productivity growth for Australia.

    Mark Lennon also made a plea for people to realise that trade unions are still relevant.  Not sure he made his case strongly enough to maintain relevance?

    I look at the landscape for women in the workplace (especially in management) and remain disheartened that we have made so little progress during my working career.  We seem to be having many of the same conversations about equal pay, equal opportunity in the workplace, discrimination, sexual harassment and parental leave as happened twenty years ago.

    The strident complaints (or the hidden seething resentment) of men when women are appointed to positions ahead of them remain.  Access to board roles remains distressingly low, although the Australian Institute of Company Directors is working hard on this at the moment.  You can check out Tony Abbott having a bit of a gripe about gender here.

    Yet I look at the landscape in Australia and am encouraged to see women in power at various levels.  It is especially encouraging to see women as: Governor General, Prime Minister, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, State Governors, State Premiers, Mayors, local Councillors and other business leaders.  But this is a very rare alignment of the  constellations, rare enough that it is commented upon.

    We have not yet reached a stage where having a woman in a position of power and authority is so completely normal that it is not even worth commenting upon.

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