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Women in male-dominated industries: More women means an improved economy

11 July 2013 By ASU

Recently the Australian Human Rights Commission released a new resource to assist women with entering male-dominated industries. The ASU has many members in this situation, so we participated in the launch. We encourage our interested members to have a look at the new Toolkit.

ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean attended the launch and raised the prospect of using work redesign to encourage a broader group of workers to participate in the trades. By examining the way work is done, adjustments (redesign) can often be implemented to make, for example, heavy jobs easier, especially with the constant introduction of new technology. He pointed out that the added value of work redesign processes was diminishing occupational health and safety problems for the entire workforce, not just women participants.

Greg also encouraged the consideration of training packages as part of the project. Wider participation at the training level would also help bolster participation on the shop floor, with the resulting benefits outlined by the AHRC in their media release below.

The ASU has a lot of experience in our membership areas of gender diversity in traditionally male-dominated areas. These include various divisions in local government (eg. parks and gardens, garbage collection, road maintenance, cleansing, etc) and utilities (energy and water companies). We therefore welcome the new toolkit and look forward to its future development.

On 25 July 2013 ASU National Women's Consultative Committee Convenor Joanne Knight was interviewed by the Your Rights at Night radio show on the topic of Australia has one of most sex-segregated labour markets among OECD countries - follow the link to hear the interview.

Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release

Tuesday 21 May 2013

You can read the media release on the AHRC website here

The Australian Human Rights Commission has today released its Women in male-dominated industries: A toolkit of strategies.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said the underrepresentation of women in industries considered to be male-dominated – such as mining, utilities and construction – was an issue that is not only undermining gender equality in Australia, but is having negative effects on industry performance and our economy. The Toolkit was developed to help address this problem.

"This is not merely a report, but an interactive website developed to encourage dialogue, engagement and sharing of approaches about increasing women's representation in male-dominated industries," Commissioner Broderick said.

"It encourages employers, employees, government, community, and unions to think about the contribution women can make and to actively share strategies for attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing women's skills in traditionally male-dominated fields."

In Australia's general workforce, women represent almost 46% of employees. However, in the industries of construction, mining, and utilities, women account for only around 12%, 15%, and 23% of employees respectively. Recent figures suggest that increasing women's employment rates could boost Australia's GDP by 11%.

"Australia ranks fourth in the world in talent shortages and many male-dominated industries are suffering a lack of skilled workers," Commissioner Broderick said. "Encouraging greater women's participation in these industries is one solution that could go a long way to addressing these skills shortages."

"Our Toolkit is divided into the areas of attraction, recruitment, retention and development of women's skills in industries that have traditionally remained dominated by male leadership and employees," said Ms Broderick. "Users can work through or contribute to discussion in all four areas or any of the four that are most relevant to them."

In developing the Toolkit, the Australian Human Rights Commission, with the support of the Minister for the Status of Women and FaCHSIA, brought together members of these male dominated industries to gather information on their experience and knowledge.

The Toolkit can be accessed here

Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner's speech at the launch: "Time to bring women into male-dominated industries"

Contact Details
Name: Greg McLean, ASU Assistant National Secretary
Telephone: 0419 796 801