20
Apr 2016

Gender discrimination is always a hot topic, no matter what industry you're in. And we know that. But this is 2016! We have the vote, all the legal frameworks in place to make sure this doesn't happen, we're fine right? Unfortunately, my friend, expectations don't always match up with reality. 

 

1. Unpaid labour

 

Expectation

Unpaid emotional labour doesn’t exist in the workplace.

 

Reality

LOL, as if.  I actually decided to test the level of unpaid emotional labour in my own team by leaving food out on the communal table following a morning tea.  

It sat there for a week.  A metre away from four men in my team who have to walk past the table every day to get to their desks.

When I pointed out the fact that the food had been there for so long, they still didn’t clean it up.  My team leader, a woman. 

The concept of unpaid emotional labour in the workplace came to the forefront of gender inequality discussions in 2015.  From remembering birthdays through to organising morning tea’s  through to the being able to turn the dishwasher on, gender constructs are reinforcing standards that women have to contribute more to the workplace but with no additional financial reward.  Recently, sociologist Jennifer Pierce conducted research at two law firms to determine the extent and impact of emotional labour in the legal profession.  Pierce found that female litigators who displayed confidence, aggression and determination in their role were perceived as obnoxious, whereas male litigators were viewed as doing a good job.

 

2. Flexibility

 

Expectation

Everyone has access to flexible work arrangements.

 

Reality

Whilst businesses will promote “flexibility”, the reality is often the opposite.  Men are rarely encouraged to take up such opportunities, and participation in such arrangements is often hidden from other staff as it is still seen as a job perk, and not a fundamental right written into most employment contracts.

I had to fight tooth and nail to get access to a flexible work arrangement, all because I am a single woman with no children.  I have been asked on several occasions not to disclose my flexible working arrangement with other staff in order to prevent them from requesting the same flexibility.  And when I have been naughty and spoken about my arrangement with other staff, I am always asked if I have children and why I am able to have a flexible work arrangement when I don’t have children.  

 

3. Darl, babe, honey...

 

Expectation

Appropriate language is used in conversation at all times.

 

Reality

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been in meetings with people who have much more fancier job titles than myself, who continue to use masculine pronouns instead of gender-neutral pronouns.  

Language has the potential to impact perceptions, and perceptions can impact behavior.  Continued use of gendered pronouns over gender-neutral pronouns has the potential to send a strong message of a preference for a man as the default. This can then inform other decisions and interactions, without us being fully aware.    

And if I’m referred to as “chook” or “darl” one more time, I’m going to go all Sigourney-Weaver-in-Aliens-with-a-flame-thrower on everyone. 

 

4. Ca$h money

 

Expectation

You will get paid the same amount for the same work as everyone else.

 

Reality

NOPE.

The average weekly full-time wage for a women is nearly 20% less than our male counterparts.  This also has a dramatic impact to superannuation savings, which could result in a reliance upon the welfare system during retirement.  Add to this the fact that women are still seen as the primary care-giver of children, which often results in women taking on part-time or casual employment instead of full-time work, in turn exacerbating the wage gap and superannuation savings .  It’s a huge hot mess with no easy fix, despite The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia remedy for women to cut back on drinking wine and contribute to their superannuation instead.

 

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