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Equal opportunity still a way off because ‘men don’t get it’

  • By Susie O’Brien
  • From: Herald Sun
  • March 08, 2011 1:42AM

 

WOMEN have not achieved equality because “some men just don’t get it”, Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner says.

“We are not seeing enough changes in action,” Dr Helen Szoke said.

“What we need are a range of strategies to break down stereotypical views of women, whether it is hiring a woman in a male-dominated occupation or a female AFL umpire.

“Most men have an unconscious filter, and we need them to see the world through another lens that breaks down barriers for women.”

Speaking in honour of the centenary of International Women’s Day, Dr Szoke urged men to think of their wives and daughters when making decisions, the Herald Sun reported.

“What would your wife say if she was sitting in your chair? Or your daughter?” she said.

“We need more men to confront their own views that stereotype women.

“A lot of men have done that and we need a lot more to do that.”

Her comments come as new figures show:

WOMEN earn 16 per cent less than men on average for the same work.

In some sectors, such as finance, they earn 32 per cent less.

WOMEN have half as much superannuation as men.

THE commission received 160 complaints of sexual harassment and 126 sex discrimination complaints from women in the last year.

A new Equal Opportunity Act takes effect in Victoria on August 1.

The Act will give employers, service providers, schools and landlords a duty to “eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation as far as possible”.

Dr Szoke said the Act required only “reasonable and proportionate measures” to combat inequality.

She said progress was best achieved through “cultural change led from within organisations”.

“Some people are getting it, and they are seeing that gender inequality is bad for business, and that they are missing out by not having enough women workers, or for being a sport that doesn’t have a code that respects women,” she said.

Alexandra Marriott, Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry manager of workplace relations said “cultural change was slow but we are seeing it happen”.

“It’s happening with a new generation coming through the workforce, especially in small business,” she said.

“Businesses are increasingly acknowledging that it is in their favour to increase opportunities for women.”

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/business/business-smarts/equal-opportunity-still-a-way-off-because/story-e6frfm9r-1226017403362#ixzz1FxFZIG2o

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