I’ve been arguing this for quite a while and no one believes the figures. Australia is resting on its laurels. (Hi Laurel) Although, I still argue that this is a global problem. Things haven’t significantly changed for hundreds of years, feminism not withstanding, aside from women having the vote and better financial protection in law (better than nothing).
We permit a few women to operate in the top levels of power in a token way. These are often positions gained through connections, sometimes through utter uber bloke bloodymindnedness and usually at the expense of other women.
Even if not explicitly keeping the sisters down to protect your own job, then if you are a successful woman then you are used to excuse the lack of affirmative action that is now espoused by the head of the Business Council of Australia.
Katie Lahey, the chief executive of the council, which represents the heads of Australia’s top 100 corporations, said promotion of women on merit had not worked.
“I’ve pooh-poohed quotas for years, but other strategies have not worked, and it’s time for a national debate on quotas for women,” she said.
I GIVE HER THREE SWORDS FOR SPEAKING OUT FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FROM HER POSITION, TEETERING ON THE BRINK OF FOUR SWORDS BECAUSE THIS IS A VERY CONTROVERSIAL COMMENT! BRING ON THE ARGUMENTS AND DEBATE!
The rest of the SMH article follows…
THE proportion of women on corporate boards and in top management in leading companies has fallen, and the head of the Business Council of Australia has called for affirmative action quotas.
Katie Lahey, the chief executive of the council, which represents the heads of Australia’s top 100 corporations, said promotion of women on merit had not worked. “I’ve pooh-poohed quotas for years, but other strategies have not worked, and it’s time for a national debate on quotas for women,” she said.
The 2008 census on women in leadership, to be published today, shows Australia has gone backwards in the promotion of women to executive management positions in top corporations and to boards.
The number of women coming through the pipeline in “feeder line” management positions is back to pre-2004 levels. Women who make it to senior roles are clustered in human resources and legal services rather than in operations, sales or finance, the usual routes to the top.
Where Australia once ranked second behind the United States in the number of top companies with a woman senior executive, it now ranks last in a list of comparable countries, including New Zealand, Britain, South Africa and Canada. The census is the fifth undertaken for the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency to measure the progress of senior women in the top 200 publicly listed corporations.
It shows the proportion of women senior executive managers – who directly report to the CEO – has declined to 10.7 per cent from 12 per cent in 2006 and is lower than in 2004. The number of women in these positions has fallen to just 182, down from 246 in 2004. While the size of executive management teams has fallen, women’s representation has fallen faster.
Naseema Sparks, the incoming president of Chief Executive Women, which promotes the development and use of leadership talent, said “it’s disgraceful”. At the time of the census on February 1 there were four women CEOs. Women comprised 8.3 per cent of board members, a decline from 8.7 per cent in 2006, and barely higher than in 2004.
The number of top companies with no women executive managers had risen sharply since 2006, from 39.5 per cent to 45.5 per cent. And more than half the ASX200 boards had no women directors. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said the most disturbing figure was the decrease in women in line executive management from 7.5 per cent to 5.9 per cent.
“This figure is particularly discouraging for younger women trying to climb the corporate ladder. Are we sending a message to women waiting in these feeder positions that their opportunities for advancement are drying up, and if so, why?”
A number of male-dominated mining, materials and energy companies have joined the ranks of the ASX 200 since the last census.
But Wendy McCarthy, a feminist business woman, said women had been graduating with first class honours degrees in geology and engineering for 25 years, “not in large number but with outstanding results, but they go back to academic life because the culture [in these companies] is unsustainable”.
NOTE: my sister was THE top geology student in Australia when she graduated but eventually left both industry AND academia due to the harassment and lack of career path. She continually saw much less able male geologists getting offered better positions or promoted over her.