We’re doin’ it wrong

This is the cover of today’s the (sydney) magazine:

Elizabeth Broderick on the sydney magazine

W. T. F?

(Hat tip to ManFriend, who saw it this morning and knew there’d be a blog post in it.)

The shiny doesn’t photograph too well, so here’s a close-up:

What the sydney magazine gets wrong

You interview the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and run the coverline as what women get wrong? Followed by we rate the most beautiful dishes in Sydney? Wow, talk about common sense fail.

So, what exactly is it that we’re doing wrong? The first page is an intro to Broderick (school, family, law career) and getting men to be a part of the culture change we need to make things better for women and men:

But after a while she thought, “You know what? This isn’t going to change until you get men taking the message of gender equality out to other men. I can bang on as the Sex Discriminiation Commissioner but to have another CEO ring [his network of contacts] and talk about it is going to be much more influential”.

That doesn’t sound like it’s about what women get wrong.

The second page has the first mention of what us silly Sydney women might be doing wrong:

Broderick is positive, overall, about how women in Sydney are faring. Since the Sex Discrimination Act became law in 1984, “we’ve made really significant advances”, she says. Still, March 8 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day, when women began agitating for, among other things, equal pay. “A hundred years later, not only is the pay gap not narrowing, it’s actually widening again,” she says. “It’s out at 16.9 per cent if you look at the national average.”

That women are still being underpaid, almost three decades after it became illegal to discriminate against women, doesn’t strike me as something Sydney women are doing wrong.

She thinks two of the biggest obstacles holding women back now, at least in economic terms, are cultural. The first, which she deals with herself by declaring a “guilt-free zone”, is the belief that a good mother spends all her time with her children. This keeps women out of the workforce and is, in her opinion, simply wrong. “We know it’s so much more nuanced than that.” The second is particularly ingrained in Sydney, where long hours are the norm and people pride themselves on how hard they work. “The ‘ideal’ worker is available 24/7, has no visible caring responsibilities and by extension is usually male,” she says. It’s an assumption that makes it hard for women with children to compete.

Again, that’s not something women are doing wrong. Men are just as embedded in the good mother myth, and it’s not the fault of women that Sydney work culture has an attitude problem that hurts everyone.

Once again, she thinks working mothers need men to help out. Until they, too, work part-time to look after the kids or leave at 3pm to do the school run, women will always be left behind. It’s why she’s committed to improving the provisions for men in the paid parental leave scheme. “They’re the future of attitudinal changes in workplaces.”

I’m sounding like a broken record here. There is nothing in this article on Broderick about what she thinks women get wrong. Until you get to the last page, with Q&As with “six prominent Sydney women on what’s still to be done and where their younger sisters are going wrong”. Sandra Yates (Chair, Sydney Writers’ Festival), Ann Sherry (CEO, Carnival Australia), Catherine Livingstone (Chair, Telstra), Margie Seale (MD, Random House Australia and NZ), Elizabeth Ann MacGregor (Director, MCA) and Lisa Corbyn (Director General, NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change and Water) were asked two questions:

What are the key issues for women?
What mistakes do you see young women making?

So instead of doing something useful with half a page of prime real estate, in a feature leading up to International Women’s Day, the (sydney) magazine tries to get women attacking women. The six women don’t play, and list “mistakes” that are things young people do, like drinking too much and posting party photos on Facebook that may come back to haunt them. What a waste of an opportunity. The question about the key issues for women should always be followed by, “How do we fix it?”


15 responses to “We’re doin’ it wrong

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention We’re doin’ it wrong | the news with nipples -- Topsy.com

  2. Thank you for writing the news with nipples. I only wish I’d found your thoughts sooner!

  3. How do we fix it? Well first lets not talk about the wage difference between men and women.
    Is the hourly rate different for males and females? no
    Is the amount of hours worked different? yes. Once men start giving birth and breast-feeding that should even out the work hours.
    Maybe women shouldn’t batter the women who choose to stay home and raise the next generation instead of throwing them into child care straight out of the uterus.
    I applaud the parents that can find the jobs that can work around school hours but generally, they work less hours and therefore get paid less.

    Maybe we should look less at the dollar value but also how happy the children and the home life is in general.

    • Hi Alex, welcome to the News with Nipples. The issue over equal pay is about much more than just hourly rate and childcare. The gender pay gap is estimated to cost the economy $93 billion a year, and “simply being a woman accounts for 60% of the difference between men’s and women’s earnings”. If a woman doesn’t have children she still earns less.

      You mention women who choose to stay home and raise children – when a heterosexual couple is working out the childcare/work arrangements that suit them, of course they take into account who earns more. And when you’re facing systemic discrimination that means you will always earn less than your male partner, it’s not a real choice, is it? Plus, it also forces men into the main breadwinner role whether they like it or not. This isn’t a women’s issue – it’s an issue for everyone.

      • I’m all for equal opportunity and if women want to work themselves into an early grave like men, they can go for it.

        It’s not discrimination, it the effect of choices made.

        If you choose not receive an education that will give you a high paying job, that’s not systemic descrimination.

        If you choose to have children and remove yourself from the workforce with the clear knowledge that you will not progress as quickly as people who don’t take leave of absences, that’s not systemic descrimination.

        If as a household it’s decided that the woman stays home and the man goes to work because he earns the more money, that’s not systemic descrimination.

        If the woman feels that she has been bullied into staying home by the man, that’s a choice she has made to stay in an unequal relationship.

        As I said in my last sentence of my original post, it’s a shame that we use the almighty dollar as the basis of finding out if a person is successful in this life. It’s an easy gauge and it can bet twisted to our needs. Gauging happiness and contentment is so much harder.

        Personally, I would love for my wife to work a full week and I could take care of my daughter but the fact of life is that her income cannot support us.

        Now, I’m only talking from my life experience. I have always encouraged my wife to do the best she can whether personally, professionally or academically, I do at least half of the housework and try to do the best as a father and husband and wish the best for my daughter in the years ahead as she enters womanhood.

        The choices that women have now, compared to what they were when I was born, are amazing. I just feel sorry for people who believe that they can have everything without having to sacrifice something.

        I’m really enjoying your posts.

        • Alex, I don’t think you read my comment. For many couples, the decision about who raises the kids and who brings in the money isn’t a real choice at all. The systemic discrimination isn’t about the decisions that couples make, it’s about the factors that lead to that decision, and the main one is that women are consistently underpaid for the work they do. That is the systemic discrimination and couples are having to weigh up options in a society that is not financially fair.

          And are you really suggesting that if a woman takes six months in parental leave, that she will really fall behind in her career? That’s just ridiculous. It makes no difference at all if you’ve worked in your career for 10 years or 10.5 years. Even if you take a year off to raise kids, over the course of your career it means nothing.

          Your point about money is a good one. I also don’t believe that you measure success by how much money you make, but the issue here is about equal pay for equal work – why should someone be paid less simply because she has a vagina? Unless that vagina is actually doing the work, what does it matter? – and superannuation. Women end up with half the amount of super as men, which comes back to equal pay.

          You said you would love to be the full-time parent but you can’t because your wife’s income is too low. That is the lack of real choice that I am talking about. You didn’t get to choose roles based on who wanted to do what, and that is why this issue isn’t just about women. It’s about all of us.

          • thefirstJanineonthisblog

            Alex, there is also the issue that work traditionally undertaken by women have been undervalued compared to similar skill sets for men. Roles such as teachers, nurses, carers and community workers are paid significantly less (I am sure you can pull out the percentage NWN – i recall it is around 40% less but probably more) than the comparable ‘man’ jobs. This is also affecting the gender pay gap. Women as a group work in roles that pay less. That is a fact. Why are these roles paid less? It isn’t because of lack of skill or ambition.

            Couple or triple that with the traditional responsibility of raising the family and keeping the house, and looking after the ageing parents – all responsibilities that statistically (have done and still) fall heavily on women – and the income gap (not hourly rate gap for same work) increases (particularly for superannuation) even further.

            • Hi Janine,
              It’s not that they were forced too do those jobs. If they want to be employed in higher paying jobs, there is nothing stopping them getting qualified for it.

              The reason why they take these lower paying jobs is because they want to be nurses, teachers, etc. I’m not sure what ‘men’ jobs you are refering to but I doubt I’m being paid more than a teacher or a nurse.

              I must dispute the ‘traditional’ role argument about keeping the house, etc. There has been a study conducted and it found that women were feeling uncomfortable due to the higher level of household chores being done by the male partners. As I stated previously, that I probably conduct and equal or even more household chores than my wife.

              I just wish that we could have the equality that most want without either side spin doctoring.

              • Alex, you’re missing the point – why should these jobs be valued less? Teachers and nurses, just to give two examples, are incredibly important jobs.

                As for the housework issue, you can’t make generalisations based on your own experience, because that’s a sample size of one. ABS stats from last year: Women still do the majority of housework. There was a survey out about the same time that found that the majority of men who responded said household jobs were shared, but only half of the women said the same thing.

              • thefirstJanineonthisblog

                Actually Alex, ‘forced to do these jobs’ is just a matter of interpretation. Even a fairly narrow interpretation captures the fact that the very factors influencing the systemic discrimination NWN is arguing above, ‘force’ women into these incredibly important but undervalued roles.

                Comparable roles for men that require the same amount of education OR LESS and ambition but are on average paid higher and with greater income boosting opportunities (business, freelance etc) include most trades.

                BTW, I know the article is in a Sydney mag but this issue is global. For some facts re women working in the same manufacturing roles as men and the relative percentage difference please go to the UN site http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/indwm/ww2005/tab5g.htm

                Like NWN has already argued above: “The systemic discrimination isn’t about the decisions that [women] make, it’s about the factors that lead to that decision, and the main one is that women are consistently underpaid for the work they do. “

                • Also while it is certainly true that women can theoretically do any trade that a man can, first you have to catch your qualified-tradesperson-willing-to-give-a-woman-an-apprenticeship, and THEN the woman has to cope with the insane amount of hazing.
                  My husband used to be allocated female apprentices and trainees because he was one of the very few men in the workplace that would not either patronise or sexually harass them.
                  I know someone who left the relatively gender-less trade of upholstery because she was subject to constant bullying, taunting, sexual harassment and insults.
                  This sort of thing while officially frowned upon, DOES skew the numbers of women entering trades, and therefore skews wages-for-comparable-levels-of-training.

  4. “The second is particularly ingrained in Sydney, where long hours are the norm and people pride themselves on how hard they work. ” As distinct from the rest of Australia where us lazy short hours scum live.

    One of the worst mistakes young women are making would be buying that rag.

  5. Pingback: 34th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival | Spilt Milk

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