7 Myths about Women and Work

7 Myths about Women and Work

CATHERINE FOX
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: UNSW Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vknt8
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  • Book Info
    7 Myths about Women and Work
    Book Description:

    Being a woman, raising children, succeeding in a leadership role and living a full life remains a tall order in modern Australia if you don’t happen to be extraordinary. Being a woman on a board, running an ASX top –listed company, or running a government department remains an exception rather than the norm. Despite the progress made towards a fairer workplace, in the discussion about the lack of women on boards or the size of the gap between men and women’s pay, tired excuses are recycled. Catherine Fox labels these the seven myths about women and work.

    eISBN: 978-1-74224-606-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACRONYMS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: WHY 7 MYTHS?
    (pp. 1-20)

    When Margaret Whitlam died in early 2012 several tributes described her as a woman of many attributes, with a great sense of humour, who was very much at ease with herself. At her funeral the eulogies made the point that she had been confident enough to be simply who she was – not a ‘first lady’ prototype or a female consort from central casting, but an intelligent, self-possessed woman on an equal footing with her husband, former Prime Minster Gough Whitlam. In an era when most married women’s lives centred on the home, Margaret Whitlam carved out a valuable public...

  6. MYTH 1: WORKPLACES ARE MERITOCRACIES
    (pp. 21-49)

    The meritocracy defence of workplace dynamics could be first or last on my hit list, because it underpins every one of the other myths in this book. It’s embedded in corporate mission statements, chanted by executives and repeated ad nauseam by a lot of people who should know better, or who really should have a long hard think about what they are stating with such certainty. After hearing merit come up in forums just about every time I have been involved in a gender equity discussion, I have come to realise it is a bedrock belief for many of us,...

  7. MYTH 2: THE GENDER PAY GAP IS EXAGGERATED
    (pp. 50-77)

    In early 2012 a watershed decision on gender pay equity was made to support a pay rise to about 150 000 of Australia’s lowest paid workers in the community services sector – mostly women. It was a breakthrough because Fair Work Australia had found that gender did indeed play a role in the undervaluing of the jobs in this traditional ‘caring’ sector: childcare workers, aged care workers. The decision was greeted with elation in some quarters, particularly those who had worked long and hard to get the case heard, but there were grim forecasts and warnings from others. The critics...

  8. MYTH 3: WOMEN DON'T WANT THE TOP JOBS
    (pp. 78-102)

    I wish I had a few dollars for every time a CEO has told me over the years that he would love to have more senior women in his team but he has discovered they really don’t want the senior jobs. Usually this is followed by an anecdote about a conversation in the lift with a women executive who told him she was not interested in more responsibility and had enough on her plate. And that’s it – from then on he seems to feel assured that all the women who have worked long hours and just as hard as...

  9. MYTH 4: WOMEN WITH CHILDREN DON'T WANT A CAREER
    (pp. 103-134)

    My brother was listening to a talkback radio program one day about the failure of many women lawyers to make partnership in law firms, despite entering the profession in ever-increasing numbers. Several callers and commentators made the point that women’s child-bearing years overlapped with a critical career period, thus leaving them at a disadvantage, which most of them saw as insurmountable. He listened for a while, increasingly incredulous. ‘Haven’t women always had children?’ he asked me as he recounted the conversation later. ‘Surely,’ he said, ‘these law firms could adjust their practices and career paths to reflect this fact?’

    Well,...

  10. MYTH 5: QUOTAS AND TARGETS ARE DANGEROUS AND UNNECESSARY
    (pp. 135-166)

    What a can of worms is opened when you mention these three words: quotas, women, boards. Start the discussion and within minutes a whole rash of assumptions and stereotypes are being invoked by men and women alike, with plenty of alarmist predictions about the possible consequences of introducing quotas or not. You would think it was the end of civilisation as we know it rather than a means of prising open the boardroom door a little wider. Every seminar or networking session I have attended in the last few years has discussed this subject with passion, and a fair few...

  11. MYTH 6: WOMEN SHOULD ACT MORE LIKE MEN (AND THEY ARE THEIR OWN WORST ENEMIES)
    (pp. 167-196)

    A few years ago I was at a Women on Boards conference listening to a panel discussion on why women struggled to get ahead as fast as their male peers in the workforce. One of the topics discussed was the apparent failure of women to successfully conduct pay negotiations and the need for them to lift their game. It’s a favourite theme in these kinds of conversations and has been dubbed the deficit model or remedial approach to women (see myth 2). One of the panellists – a distinguished businessman – said he was a bit tired of hearing about...

  12. MYTH 7: TIME WILL HEAL ALL
    (pp. 197-233)

    When I interviewed Martin Parkinson, secretary to the Australian Treasury, about a recent study on women in the department, he explained how his thinking on this subject had changed. Like many senior executives in organisations he had hoped that over time the poor representation of women at senior levels would correct itself. After many years of observing the rising number of female graduates joining the department but little change in executive numbers he started to realise that the idea of the growing pipeline of well-educated women that would automatically transform gender ratios throughout organisations needed to be re-examined. He had...

  13. MYTH-BUSTING AND BEYOND
    (pp. 234-258)

    This report followed radio host Kyle Sandilands’s on-air attack in late 2011 on a female journalist who had criticised his recently aired television special. For her efforts she was called ‘a fat slag’ and told to watch her mouth or Sandilands would hunt her down. It wasn’t the first time the radio personality had courted controversy, and many of his outbursts have been directed at women, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The repercussions included condemnation and protests from across society. The successful ‘Sack Vile Kyle’ campaign was particularly carefully aimed to add some extra potency...

  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 259-266)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 267-274)