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telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Posts Tagged ‘glass ceiling

Women @ Work

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So the glass-ceiling thing comes up again. Another study, another article, another blog post asking the same old questions:

WHY are there so few women at senior levels in Australian corporate life? How is it that women, who are at least as well educated as men these days, represent only 12 per cent of ASX 200 executive managers? Why have women been appointed as CEOs of just five ASX 200 companies since 2004?

The Leadership Challenge: Women in Management study by Hannah Piterman presents some interesting observations, and I look forward to reading Aunty Jan‘s response to this in the coming days, but I figured I’d have my say first so that I don’t spend a whole entry being angry at her, rather than the topic.

One participant in the study, a female senior manager, commented that

A lot of women don’t want to be senior women in corporations because they want to have more flexibility and more choice and dedicate more time and focus to other elements of their life”.

The author of the article I read, Jennifer Hewitt, responds:

Fair enough. It’s certainly a sensible alternative to the competitive fixation with titles and offices and status shown by so many men. But, particularly given the growing shortage of skilled employees facing Australian businesses, it’s worth figuring out if such choices have to be so rigid for so many women.

While I totally agree with that, I don’t think it’s fair enough that giving up a career because it’s incompatible with kids is the only ‘sensible option’. Surely there’s a sensible option to deal with this work/life problem if it means sorting the skills shortage?

I’ve been watching Cashmere Mafia recently (I know, I know, in the last post I referred to City Homicide, but bear with me here) and while it is mostly SATC: Married With Higher Paying Jobs, I think there’s at least one storyline that touches on a real issue highlighted by this study — nothing has changed in the corporate world which makes it easy to be a woman in management.

Frances O’Connor’s character is middle-management in a finance firm who also happens to be a mother. Every aspect of her arc is basically about her family v work dilemma. In two episodes, colleagues trying to out-do her for promotion fix meetings and projects with the hope she won’t be able to make it due to family commitments. According to Dr Piterman:

Working mothers are excluded from key roles, projects and opportunities due to a work structure and a culture that does not accommodate their needs

and the author of the article I read points out that

A number of the most successful women in the study either don’t have children or have a very supportive partner or engage in complex juggling acts that are not sustainable.

I’ve been naughtily watching eps before they’re on TV here, so I won’t say any more on the CM stuff, just that it got me thinking about the glass ceiling over the weekend when, lo and behold, here is this interesting study which notes

Female talent is ultimately lost as working mothers fail to achieve effective flexible work arrangements and abandon demanding corporate careers.

I’ve spoken to a men running large corporate business who agree that this is a massive problem that needs a creative solution.

Determining what that solution is, or even where the impetus for finding this solution will come from, is not so easy as identifying the problem. I mean, if it’s on a Manhattan-based dramedy, surely it’s old news.

So, who’s it going to be, kids?

Who’s going to just throw their hands up and admit that there’s a serious problem, and that working on the dooms-day skills shortage we currently have may just have to include getting rid of that gosh-darn glass ceiling as well as more TAFEs and 457s?

Because unless someone gives everyone a good kick up the backside, I have a feeling we’ll just sit around twiddling our thumbs and whinging.

I’m not going to say it’ll be easily. It’s not just more childcare centres or paid maternity leave that’s going to fix this problem. The attitude of people in business and the corporate world has to change, because no amount of CBD creches will change stuff like this:

It’s not just because most women tend not to be around as much for the networking ppportunities like the drinks at the pub or the games of golf.

It’s also a more subtle shading that means male executives feel more comfortable with men like them while women who try to emulate that masculine model encourage suspicion, derision and cultural isolation.

“The communication and decision-making styles attributed to women, such as being inclusive and collegial, are seen as incompatible with desired leadership traits of decisiveness and expediency,” the study summarises. “Women’s reluctance (and/or inability) to enter into a game of strategic survival and aggressive personal politics is perceived as weakness and lack of ambition.”

So I’m not just looking at you, Tanya, but also at the guys running all the businesses out there (because, yes, they are guys).

We’ve got the research, we know what’s wrong, we’ve got the impetus… so how about we try and change that whole ‘corporate culture’ thing, shall we?

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Written by Sunili

18 March 2008 at 9:13 am

“Citizen Jane” Responds

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From my inbox re my vile raving rant from yesterday:

Well, here I was carelessly surfing the internet and thinking to myself… geez there’s a lot of conservative crap being printed on the internet. With a slight sigh of relief I stumbled across your ‘blog.’ At the very first glance of your page I was quickly reassured with the state of the media. The media isn’t biased at all. There’s just as much conservative crap out there as there is ‘liberal’ bulldust such as yours (and for those wondering I use the term liberal very loosely).

To start off with I have to say that it is no real surprise that you got so worked up on the issue. Well, think about. If someone says something stupid your shrug your shoulders and think, if not say, what a “poor stupid bastard.” But in this case you had a person making logical, valid points and all you could respond with was a whole heap of swearing and false bravado. And to make things worse for you the person making these points was actually one of your own-kind (someone else who writes what they believe is right in an attempt to save the world.)

Oh… you thought I was referring to author’s gender. Opps, I guess you forgot the first rule of feminism: equality. Yes, that’s right – gender is irrelevant. WHEN WILL YOU PEOPLE FINALLY UNDERSTAND THIS. The fact that it was a female writing the article is completely. Utterly. Undeniably. IMMATERIAL. But I suppose I should forgive you, when you can’t attack the content of an article you have to fill your page moaning about something.

The problem with old-feminists is that they completely lost sight of what they were fighting for. Originally, they weren’t simply about women’s rights, they were about equality. It just so happens that, at the time, women were getting a bloody raw deal. So, that’s what they fought for. Tooth and nail. They fought for a system where women could be educated, given the same opportunities and be just as, if not, more successful than their muscularly enhanced counterparts.

Conveniently (but predictably) you forgot to mention the fact that women do have a chance. And not just a 30% chance either. Confused? Oh, let me remind you of someone who actually has some facts.

Women in the present day are:

* Four times LESS likely than young men to kill themselves
* 22 times LESS likely to be imprisoned.
* And MORE likely than boys to leave school with no qualifications.

Oh, but didn’t you say:

“It’s only when women are educated, supported and given the chance to excel do we have a $%&* choice.”

What’s worse is that you then go on to lament about the demise of the Office of Status of Women. Well don’t men have issues too? Isn’t this what we are fighting for here – Equality.

Agreed?

Anyone?

Oh… that’s right… now I remember why men don’t have an Office of Status. Because if they haven’t killed themselves then they are in prison or too uneducated to do anything about.

How convenient.

The thing that is admirable about Janet Albrechtsen is that she isn’t afraid to fight for equality. She isn’t the ego-thirsty, power-hungry person that you are. She can accept that 30% ain’t bad for women. Now, all your readers out there, bear with me here.

Let’s face facts. Men have penises and women have vaginas. Women give birth (using their vaginas). Men are strong and are more suited to the blue-collar jobs (not that anyone cares about those jobs anyway). But nevertheless, a bit like YOU said. You want to stay home and look after the kids. Well what happens if 70% of women agree with you. Do we then launch into a cry about the High Court?

No. We look at it objectively. Women have great opportunities. In fact, in some cases, they are better off than men. Most women are educated, out-of-prison and alive. And if a woman wants to gets on the High Court, SHE HAS THE OPPURTUNITY. So now that women have opportunities you can get off your high horse. Old feminism can slowly fade away. And a new, truer form of feminism can be bred where equality is fought for, regardless of the gender.

Citizen Jane

This, folks, is even more gold when one knows who wrote it, and I now feel 100% justified in certain possibly-irrational choices I may have made recently 😀

But, to the issue at hand.

Dear Jane

I agree with you, Jane, about equality. In fact, I was discussing this issue with a Friend From Up The Road yesterday and he takes exactly the same position as you with regards to what modern feminism is about. The term feminism should apparently be scrapped (in the same way one might say the ALP should get as far away from ‘Labor’ as possible which some creative corporate re-branding, but I’ll save that one for a rainy day… it’s too lovely a day today to be angry…) in favour of ‘equalism’ or, in the alternative, we should just forget about the whole damn thing all together and just get on with our lives.

However, there’s something about forgetting the past which I just cannot deal with. What happens when you forget the past is that you make the same mistakes over and over again. This is the same issue I have with indigenous issues and economic policy… everyone gets lulled into a false sense of security when things are ‘fine’ and all of a sudden, you’re back 70 years. As long as you, Jane, promise me that on the road to equalism we don’t forget that women have suffered with the raw deal for a very long time, I agree that we need to support everyone with warm-fuzzies.

But, here’s my reply speech (especially since you don’t like them…) on the other issues you raised, in chronological order.

Firstly, I’m not the media. I’m an over-excited twenty-something nerd who hates to piss off the few real-world friends she has and has thus taken to venting in kilobytes. Furthermore, I believe there has been some good research done on the fact blogging doesn’t affect the mainstream media enough to have real impact on the information war, and with 8 hits a day I’m not part of the tiny number who may in fact do so.

Secondly, I feel that my harping on Janet Albrechtson’s gender was justified. Someone said to me yesterday that if a man had written what she had written, it would have never been published. Why would anyone say that if what she wrote wasn’t ridiculously offensive to women and the hard fight fought by crazed feminazis everywhere? Plus, she wrote it as a woman, she should be able to justify it as a woman, and so I am going to write about what she wrote as a woman.

Thirdly, would you like to re-read my post and tell me exactly how many times I moaned without discussing ‘content’? I may get emotional sometimes, but I generally try to stick to the issues at hand when I criticise something, without resorting to blatantly making stuff up.

Fourthly, I’m glad you accept that there needed to be a cat-fight for women to “given the same opportunities and be just as, if not, more successful than their muscularly enhanced counterparts” and that “as a result of the pressure from such people that many women’s lives have improved“:

This is great. Women have achieved so much. But the brutal facts remain. The vast majority of the world’s women still have very little power, at work, in their relationships at home, or in the wider world. As British social commentator Polly Toynbee noted, even in the Britain of 2004: ‘the battle is only half won.’

Worldwide, 70 per cent of those living in poverty are women, as are two-thirds of illiterate adults. One in four women is beaten by her husband or partner. Every day, 1,300 still die unnecessarily in childbirth or during pregnancy.

I do not believe feminists have “lost sight of what they were fighting for”. It is only when we accept sub-par results do we lose sight of the fight.

Fifthly, if you’re up for some websurfing: here are some more facts about women and our (cough) place in the world.

Sixthly, when I was talking about [deleted] choices, it was in the context of responding to Auntie Jan saying feminazis do not offer women ‘real choices’. I was saying we have choices. Because of feminazis and what they fought for. Yes, hurrah, something to celebrate! Auntie Jan goes on and on about how Old Femmos whine despite the progress we’ve made and yet what does she do? Whine about something we could celebrate. Way to go!

Seventhly, I understand the point you are making about the status of men. I’m sure you feel very strongly about it. All I have to say to that is, then let’s stop arguing about women and men and fix the education system which currently favours the rich over the poor and is on a steady march to increasing that divide.

Oops, did I suddenly switch from whinging about gender to whinging about class? Here’s the thing with equality in this country right now: Everything and everyone is divided into competing factions because it appears that the elites seem to like it that way. They’re happy propping up their friends to high places and ignoring those who can’t increase their status. My apologies for the digression, but there is a link…

The thing is, exactly the same issue exists with women. Women have always have and, if we ignore it, always will face an uphill battle for equality. Probably because we have different bits down there to men. (I am going to ignore the thing you said about Auntie Jan’s ego: la la la la la la imnotlisteningoriwillswearagain la la la la.) My Friend From Up The Road pointed out that the number is 30% because 20% of women are having children at all times. (Like how 69% of statistics are made up on the spot.) Well, if that is the case, I give up. I concede. Capitulate, even. Ok, we have the chance and opportunity to be on the High Court now, let’s get the hell over it.

But 30% isn’t equality yet. We need to support everyone, men, women, children, elderly, indigenous people, migrants, students, workers, heck, even wild tree frogs, but we still have to fight for equality, as the best way to provide that support. We still have to fight because the current status quo doesn’t give a shit. That’s all I was saying. That and Janet Albrechtsen is evil.

Thanks for taking the time to send me a response, and I hope to talk to you soon
Sunili

P.S. I know I’m not one to talk about spelling, but I’ve recently found that Copy-Paste to Word only takes a few seconds 😉

Written by Sunili

11 December 2004 at 9:06 am

Anger. Rising. Must. Blog.

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Note: Sorry I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a while, it was due to the post-exam blob-out and being too busy in the real-world and then writing about slightly more interesting things elsewhere–I have even avoided looking the news up online–and please forgive that this response to my second favourite Tory Lady Janet Albrechtsen is a little tardy and may have been covered elsewhere. I promise I’ll be getting back into the swing of things again shortly. Oh, and yeah, I get really ticked off here, so you have hereby been given a

LANGUAGE WARNING.

Anti-feminist women perplex me. Conservative anti-feminist women (though I’m hard pressed to name any progressive anti-feminist women) more so. Let’s face it, if a woman it so brainwashed by her context to think her place is in the home and she should never be able to achieve or do anything because she wants to, then I can’t blame her. Heck, if a woman sits down and has a good think about all the issues and decides, for. her. self, that’s what she wants to do, then kudos to her. But how can an educated, apparently intelligent woman of the world think so? I suppose “an intelligent Conservative” is an oxymoron. But, in my humble opinion, so is Tory Anti-Feminism.

In her latest, Janet Albrechtsen suggests that for those weirdo hippie bra-burning crackpots better known as ‘older feminists’, “conservatism and feminism do not mix“.

And rightly so, because Tories like the Luddite “picket-fence, mother-at-home model” of women’s policy in preference to the “oh, shit; quick, put a woman on the High Court even if it’s solely to save us from international humiliation (even though we probably can’t be more humiliated and looked down upon…)” model.

But, surely, if a Conservative woman was all gung-ho for that personal-best-self-interest realist crap, she would be promoting the need to support women though affirmative action mechanisms because it’d be the best way for her to win?

Apparently not!

Which I SO do not get. Doesn’t Jan realise that maybe one day she could be swinging her sensible shoes off the edge of highest park-bench in the country if only she supported giving women a so-called ‘free ride’?

No, she’s too busy pointing out that 30% is a victory.

I know Jess from ausculture hearts Janet Albrechtsen, but I hate her and her smarminess.

According to Jan, ‘real women’ (of which I am apparently not one) should be celebrating (and that does not just mean being pleased with the current progress, but actually congratulating ourselves on this is be-all and end-all achievement) the following:

Women hold 33 per cent of Australian government board spots, well beyond the 8.6 per cent of seats they had on Australia’s top 200 listed companies as at June 2003. For the same period, women held more than 30 per cent of positions at the senior executive service level in the Australian public service. In the private sector the figure is 8.8 per cent. Women fill more than one quarter of Coalition seats and as Howard noted in his post-election press conference, there are more women in cabinet than at any time since Federation.


First of all… 103 years is a LONG FUCKING TIME SINCE FEDERATION, but, more bizarrely… we’re supposed to be proud of THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT?????????????

Fuck. Off.

Oh, pardon me. That’s thirty-three percent of government board spots.

Fuck the fuck off, Jan. Not happy, even.

Apparently we’re not allowed to be ‘angry’ that only SIX women head government departments. That’s SIX out of EIGHTEEN departments. Good things obviously come in thirds, because this fact, according to Auntie Jan, is the. Best. Thing. Ever.

Fuck. Off.

I appear to be repeating myself. But I just can’t help it. I am livid. FUCK THE FUCK OFF, JANET!!!!

On the issue that affirmative action is a ‘free ride’, Auntie Jan argues that:

… merit must come first. Short cuts based on gender will hardly advance the status of women. When you appoint a woman on sex, not talent, you risk appointing the talentless — or at least promoting that perception. And that can only encourage a view that women are not quite up to the job.

What complete and utter bullshit. On first glance, Jan’s point appears relatively rational. (Heaven forbid!)

But let’s have a think about this, shall we? (Phew. Order is once again restored to the world.)

First of all, while we may like to think we live in a meritocracy, oh no we fucking don’t. What’s the difference between appointing a woman to the High Court because she’s a woman and appointing a conservative to the High Court because he (let’s face it, he) happens to be a conservative, for fuckssakes? Because that’s what fucking happens in the fucking real world, as much as it pains me almost to the point of tears.

Second of all, we “risk appointing the talentless”??? Give me a freaking break, woman. Why don’t you just SAY “there are no talented, qualified, quite-up-to-the-job women available to fill these positions”, COUGHBULLSHITCOUGH, and just admit your redicularity (is that a word? I mean it in the same way one says ‘hilarity’). Giving women a chance to enter a male-dominated profession is shitloads more progress than THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT. Can someone please explain to me how the fuck she ever passed highschool (heck, even kindergarten) thinking THIRTY PERCENT was good enough? That concept is just spinning me out right now.

And on the issue of choice… The feminazi version of choice apparently has “a nasty tendency to transmute into the dictatorial and doctrinaire“. WANKWANKWANKWANKWANK. Your point, sweetie? (By the by, what a nice way of appealing to the masses; you go, Jan.) There is so a fucking choice when you support women. When I have children, I will stay at home with them because I’m the clucky type and I want to watch the cute little monkeys grow up. But I also want to do something with my life other than get sprogged up. That’s called choice. It’s only when we have opportunities do we have a bloody choice. It’s only when women are educated, supported and given the chance to excel do we have a fucking choice.

Finally, if it’s not too much to ask, Auntie Jan, would you care to explain and/or give an example of what you mean by “objective policy making based upon impartial research of women’s needs and wants”? I would be most appreciative. Because if that isn’t what the Office of Status of Women is about, well, then, I’m stumped.

So now I’m back to being confused. Confused as to why a woman thinks it’s fine for women to only be 30% of the decision making process which affects 50% of the population, confused as to why she’s not riding the affirmative action train to Success Station herself, since it’s in her go-get-em Tory nature anyway, and confused as to how in blazes she gets stuff published in national newspapers. (No, wait, I so know the answer to that last one: Tinkerbell.) Oh jeez, how is her existence even rational? Is she some sort of über Conservabot sent here from the future to destroy our souls or something? If so, is she from the same lab from which Ann Coulter spawned?

URGH.

Right, back to being angry. Jeez Louise, I am so pissed off right now. I’m just going to stop before I say something which could get me sued. If I haven’t already.

Written by Sunili

10 December 2004 at 11:40 am