Gender relations in Contemporary Australia

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					Gender relations in
Contemporary Australia

   Is the ‘war’ over?
Defining the gender wars
 Is Australia a particularly sexist society?

 How should we characterise the nature of the
  relationship between men and women?

 Do significant disparities exist along gender

 The crisis for feminism vs the crisis of
Defining gender
 Masculinity and femininity refer to the
  idealisations of particular qualities,
  characteristics, appearances, behaviours that
  are attached the male and female sex.

 Hegemonic or dominant form of gender
Defining gender
 Binary oppositions

 Men as strong, objective, rational,
  independent, logical.

 Women as weak, subjective, emotional,
  dependent, hysterical.
Sites of gender socialisation
 The family

 Education

 Work

 Leisure

 Language

 Advertising
 Tend to depict women in a limited range of
- wife and homemaker
- mother
- sexual object

Men often depicted as stupid and incompetent
particularly in the home and afraid of
The nation as a gendered entity
 National types constructed around male
  figures and a particular kind of masculinity.

 Hyper-masculinity
A sexist nation?
 Gender imbalance in the 19th century

 The nature of the Australian frontier

 The basic wage

 The role of war in Australian society
Gender disparities today?
 Has Australia reached a post-feminist stage
  of the debate? Is feminism now redundant?

 The end of equality? Issues of gender
  imbalance off the national agenda.

 The need for a national conversation?
Women and politics
 The vote and the right to stand for parliament
  both achieved early in Australia.

 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act

 First woman to gain a seat in parliament in
  1943 and then not again until 1966.
Women in parliament
 1994 ALP adopted a policy of affirmative
  action to ensure 35% of seats needed to form
  government would be filled by women.
 The number of women in parliament has
  climbed in the 1990s.
 One-quarter of Federal parliamentarians are
 Women under-represented at the executive
Women & paid work
 Access to paid work a key demand in the
  struggle for women’s liberation.

 1947 women comprised 22% of the workforce

 1987 women comprised 37% of the workforce
  with the increase of married women from 3%
  to 22%.
 1992 women comprised 42% of the workforce
Legislative changes
 1969 granting of equal pay to women doing work of
  the same nature to men.

 1972 equal pay for work of equal value.

 1975 anti-discrimination legislation

 1984 Sex Discrimination Act

 1996 Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunity Act)
Women in work in contemporary
 Feminisation of the workforce.

 In August 2002 women comprised 44.5% of
  the workforce.

 Overall participation of women in the
  workforce is 66% - lower than comparable
  nations like the US
Gender segregation
 Describes the concentration of women and
  men in different occupations
 Horizontal segregation – women and men
  working in different occupations
 Vertical segregation – occupational
  hierarchies are also gender hierarchies.
 Lower wages for ‘women’s’ work.
 Women continue to earn less than men.
In 2002 the ratio of the female to the male wage
was 84.4%
The national conversation

 Housework

 Childcare

 Maternity leave
A crisis for feminism?

 Has feminism achieved its goals? Is it

 Is feminism relevant for young women?

 Does liberal feminism establish a men as the
A masculinity crisis?
 Marginalised and confused by their social

 Linked to changing nature of the workforce
  and increased participation of women.

 Representations in popular culture of men as
  stupid or incompetent

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