Australia: land of 11.6 million women accounting for 56% of university enrolments and 45.8% of the labour force. But we’re still earning an average $262.50 less than men a week, for those working full-time, and nowhere near parity when it comes to leadership positions.
That’s the short of it. We’ve got plenty of work to do when it comes to evening up the playing field for women at work. Global not-for-profit Catalyst says it’s here to help.
To coincide with its official Australian launch this week, Catalyst has released a snapshot of life for women in Australia.
The figures, pulled from a number of different studies and ABS data, highlight some of the key areas requiring attention on advancing women in the workforce.
It refers to 2012 research that found women account for 9.7% of key management personnel across the ASX 200, 3.5% of CEO positions and 3% of such company chairs. It also draws on the more positive and up-to-date data from Company Directors that finds women now make up 17.6% of all ASX 200 board positions — a record, but not one to get too excited about just yet.
The snapshot also shows women hold 28.9% of parliamentary positions, which is slightly up on the OECD average of 27.8%. However, the disparity between states and territories is significant. Political life for women appears a little more realistic in the ACT government, where women hold 41.2% of lower house positions, but currently grim in NSW (20.4%) and Queensland (20.2%).
Catalyst CEO and president Deborah Gillis touched down in Australia this week for the local launch, anointing diversity consultant Rowan Arndt as its Australian ambassador.
Gillis says Catalyst’s goal is to increase women’s representation and leadership in Australian workplaces and organisations. It will engage with companies on their diversity efforts and offer tools and assistance to help, in collaboration with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
She also notes Australia has made some good progress — including the introduction of government paid parental leave (the second last industrialised nation to do so) and incremental increase in women on ASX 200 boards, a number that’s risen from 10.7% in 2010 to 17.6% in 2014.
With our population projected to double in the next 60 years, the opportunities to make better use of the female half of the population are vast, and necessary. A local Catalyst presence can only further fuel the discussions we need to have, and help inspire the change that’s required.