14 February 2017
Australia needs more women ‘in the driving seat’ to create a better society for Australia.
This is the thrust and theme of the latest issue of ATSE Focus (Focus 200) which examines the role of women in Australia’s future.
Company Director and President of Chief Executive Women Ms Kathryn Fagg FTSE sets the tone, saying that to create a better society for Australians means we have to draw on all the talent that is available, both men and women.
“As CEW’s President, I have set myself the goal of having an impact on the rate of appointment of women to the most senior executive roles in organisations, and not just appointment to senior support roles.
“Everyone in organisations knows which roles are the most important. We need to have a critical mass of women in them.
“Although there are no silver bullets, we know what is required. Leaders must be able to communicate a compelling case for change, to build a top team with gender diversity, to play a strong role in key recruitment and promotion decisions, to set challenging targets and to act as a sponsor for talented women and men.”
Ms Rosalind Dubs FTSE, company director, and Boeing Research and Technology Australia General Manager Mr Michael Edwards FTSE say we must speak out and take firm action to increase the numbers of capable women in the driving seat.
They call on Australian business to take action to reduce the remuneration gap between men and women and grow and support a pipeline of women managers who will be the next generation company leaders.
“Fortunately, setting a good example, we now have the “Male Champions of Change” (MCC), a collaborative initiative of corporate and institutional leaders, convened by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick in 2010 following the recognition that the most senior men in organisations with sub-optimal gender balances are the ones best positioned to do something about it,” they write.
“These influential leaders see their role as stepping up beside women and saying ‘the promotion of gender equality is everyone’s business’.”
The importance of attracting female students into engineering is highlighted in an article by three leading engineering academics who raise the need for better understanding of the reasons behind student’s course choices.
The universities, the engineering profession and the wider community will all benefit from a more equitable balance of male and female engineers, write Professor Graham Schaffer FTSE, Ms Else Shepherd AM FTSE, Professor Doreen Thomas FTSE and Professor Mark Hoffman FTSE – noting that a number of engineering faculties have recently initiated diversity programs, which are beginning to have an impact.
Dr Mark Toner FTSE, chair of ATSE’s Gender Equity Working Group, explores why more women aren’t running higher education in Australia.
The fact that men discriminate against women is a major cause, he says. He notes that higher education institutions in Australia are patriarchal and men favouring men is the major characteristic of a patriarchal system.
“In general, patriarchy is not an explicit ongoing effort by men to dominate women. It is a long-standing system that we are born into, accept and participate in, mostly unconsciously.”
Dr Susan Pond AM FTSE notes the inequality in higher education institutions and highlights the impact the Athena Swan Program – jointly backed by ATSE and the Academy of Science – is having in focusing on this topic.
The facts about gender inequality and the need for persistent and collective action to bring change are highlighted in a number of government programs, write Dr Wafa El-Adhami and Dr Saraid Billiards, from the SAGE initiative.
They note the impact on gender equity of initiatives by the National Innovation Science Agenda, The Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Office for Women, within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
ATSE Focus is the Academy of Technology and Engineering’s bi-monthly issues magazine.
Enhancing Australia's prosperity through technology and innovation