What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 5th – 11th March 2018

Women Report of Inequality and Sexual Harassment in National Survey
The University of Sydney has produced a national survey of women’s attitudes in the workplace. The report, entitled, ‘Women and the Future of Work’, questioned more than 2000 women and 500 men between the ages of 16 and 40. Professor Rae Cooper found some of the results “shocking” but not “surprising”. Compared to 50% of men, only 31% of women believed there was equality in their work and that they were being treated equally. Furthermore, while 10% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment at work, the reality is probably worse given the tendency to underreport. Of the women surveyed, 90% considered flexibility at work to be important, but only 16% strongly agreed it was available to them. A larger more comprehensive survey of 10,000 people will be conducted by the government for April, according to the Federal Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer.

Energy Australia Works to Close Gender Pay Gap
Energy Australia is set to close its gender pay gap. The organisation announced that it would spend $1.2 million to balance the salaries of 350 women currently being paid less than their male equivalents. Also announced was a future review to account for men negotiating higher salaries. For some women, the “recognition is far more important” than the pay increase alone. Energy Australia’s Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, was “really pleased that we’re able to say this year… we’re bridging that gap” but was nonetheless apologetic to have taken this long in doing so. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency believes that the lack of women in higher management positions and minimal bargaining power in negotiations are considerable factors in the persistent pay discrepancies.

Neuroscientist Discriminated against due to her Pregnancy
A neuroscientist was removed from speaking at a charity lunch when organisers found she was weeks from giving birth. Dr Muireann Irish, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney, was to speak about her research and experience as a woman in STEM. When she emailed the organisers to let them know of her pregnancy out of courtesy, they told her that, “We don’t want to put any additional pressure on you at this time”. As a result, Ms Irish has called out what she labels “benevolent sexism”, where discrimination takes place under the façade of protection. Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, said Dr Irish’s experience was not uncommon and nearly 50% of women experience discrimination in the workplace because they are pregnant.

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