There's life in '70s arguments yet

Kerri Carr

Marian Baird listed a range of equity gaps

Heads were bobbing in silent agreement when Professor of Employment Relations at Sydney University Marian Baird read out a long list of equity gaps at Federation’s Women’s Conference on August 15.

“There still remains a massive gender pay gap, 17 to 18 per cent.

“There’s a gap in the hours men and women work.

“There is a superannuation gap and a lifetime earnings gap.

“There is clearly a care gap, women continue to do almost all care.

“There’s a leisure gap, women don’t have any leisure time.

“There are occupational gaps, women are concentrated in particular occupations and that has barely shifted in the past 40 years, in fact in some cases it has gone backwards.”

Prof Baird said that in order to advance women’s positions, women should “revert to some of the arguments we used in the 1970s”, arguments around social liberalism.

She said gender equity and social justice needed to be considered as much as the business case.

“Forty years ago the term ‘business case’ was barely heard of…but now it’s impossible to get a gender equity strategy up without a business case behind it.

“Is the business case the right language that we should be using?” she asked.

“Is it the right lens that we should be seeing gender equity through, because what if a business case can’t be made to protect women’s incomes? What if a business case can be made to cut parental leave?”

Other speakers at Women’s Conference included broadcaster and public speaker Clementine Ford, Federation’s first Women’s Coordinator Gail Shelston and Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe.

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