Anne – 11 March 2011 – Celebrating Women: International Women’s Day

Running with the bulls - New York 2009

Tuesday was International Women’s Day.

At work we had a senior member of the team, who was a woman, give a speech and there was a morning tea to “mark the occasion”.

Now those of you that know me personally know that I stepped out of the corporate world a while back and I’ve just rejoined the fleet a couple of months ago.

Anyway I stood there on Tuesday, in this large organisation, listening to this woman and quicker than quick-sticks I was madder than mad because I feel that she threw away her platform.

There were some really good pieces written this week both in the Australian and International press about International Women’s Day and I think they raised some pertinent issues and focused on things that do still need further change.

But where I was on Tuesday I didn’t hear anything about the issues that still need attention.

Maybe she has been really fortunate and had a great run with this particular company and never faced any discrimination or “boys club” attitude or anything of the sort.  But I feel that its a great occasion to make sure that some of the real issues that still affect women are given some airtime.

That they lose out on superannuation because of the time that they take out of the workforce to have their children and often they never make it up because they don’t return to the workforce on a full time basis.

That they lose out on income because if they take maternity leave they don’t get a pay rise that year and they never make up the “lost ground” even if they return to work full time.

That there are still woefully low numbers of women in senior positions in the public and private sector and even fewer on the boards of public companies.

…. and I could keep going on and on but I’m sure you’re getting the picture.

On that same day I found out that the company I’m currently working for requires the Chartered Accountants to pay their own CA registration fees.  So for the women in that team and there are a number of them and some of them working part time they get to pay approximately $600 of their own money to do the job that they are employed to do.  They couldn’t get the job if they weren’t CA’s but they have to pay to keep up their own registration.

The guys do too … but all of them are full time earning a full-time wage.

It struck me as being a barrier to women returning to the workforce after they’ve had their families.

So I wandered if perhaps women have become somewhat complacent about the issues.  On the whole we are lucky in Australia because we do get access to education, to work, to childcare …. many in developing countries don’t.  Maybe because its so much easier than it was, we’ve lost sight of how hard it was and how much work there is still to be done?

I think maybe I have.

This International Women’s Day also got me wondering about children and mothering and the value that is attached to home based childcare.  Recently I’ve been hearing about women returning to work 3 – 6 months after having babies and it got me wondering if that was from choice or if that was from economic necessity or perhaps because its career suicide to do otherwise?

One woman I was talking to said she had come back to work early and full time because she knew that she wouldn’t be given “good” opportunities if she had come back after a year and come back part-time.

Before I started writing tonight I thought about all the women I know in the corporate world and I can’t think of one of them who is perfectly happy with her job and what happens in her workplace.

A lot of the women I know who are in service industries (lawyers, accountants etc) or those in big companies all have a range of things that they aren’t happy with – So I’m wondering how do we change that, how many more miles are there still to go on this journey?

So this isn’t a very cohesive piece…. It’s the jumbled thoughts that are running around my head right now and I’m wondering what we need to do to make it better – for every path that women chose be it working in the corporate world or working at home.



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