Getting the balance right

Men may still lead most of our professional industries in Australia, but it is women who hold the key to their collective future.

A report issued last year by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific concludes that restricting women’s job opportunities costs the region up to $47 billion each year.

The same report suggests that as a nation’s female employment rate rises, so does its GDP.

At the same time, the fast pace of life is taking its toll on women across the economy. While one in six Australian women reported feeling rushed in 1974, by 1997, seven out of eight women felt like life had become more frantic. Women are not returning from maternity leave or resigning because they are unable to combine work and family demands.

The cost to industry is high. NRMA estimates that it costs $48,000 to replace a manager, $29,000 to replace senior specialists and $12,000 to replace other staff.

So, how we support women at every stage of their careers?

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Melbourne Worker said,

    (previously aka The one who emailed)

    I don’t yet have any hard data to support this, but a gut feeling suggests to me that one way to support women returning from maternity leave would be to develop a more supportive attitude throughout society to fathers taking lengthier paternity leave and/or being ‘house-husbands’ whilst the mothers are the main ‘bread-winners’ (countries such as Sweden may be able to provide data). I realise however that changing the views of an entire, very multi-cultural, society is not an easy task!

    As an example of this societal attitude, I was speaking to a recent new mum a few weeks back, and she made the comment that throughout her pregnancy, multiple people asked if she would be going back to work after the birth. Her husband was not asked this question at all. He was also made to feel guilty about the fact that he took his full allowance of paternity leave, and said that the people seeming most disapproving of his taking it were female ‘baby boomers’ – the attitude he received from them seemed to be a supposedly-feminist “we fought for that right for women, not you!”.

    Other articles that I have read have also discussed the fact that women in today’s ‘post-feminist’ era often feel that since they can now ‘have it all’, that they therefore -must- have it all, meaning that they have to be the perfect ’50s housewife and the ultimate ’80s exec, all with the social life of a Sex & the City character. Which is very rarely humanly possible, let’s be honest!
    And the flip side of which is the other half of society, the men, unsure about exactly what their role is now, what it really means to ‘be a man’ if women can now do everything that men can, and not yet fully adjusted to the fact that men don’t have to be defined purely by their job, but can be house-husbands for example.


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