New report aims to dismantle gender inequity

Posted on 18 Jun 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Sexual bias gender equity

Engaging children in discussions about gender norms is one of a raft of recommendations contained in a new report aimed at achieving gender equity in Australia.

The Remaking the Norm report was produced by Australians Investing in Women, Deloitte Access Economics and the Minderoo Foundation.

The report, which includes new research into equality-based attitudes and behaviour in corporate Australia, outlines how society can dismantle bias and stereotypes.

Remaking the norm report

It contains six actions it says can be taken by government, business, philanthropy and community groups to dismantle harmful gender norms and inequities in Australia:

  • Engage children and young people in discussions about gender norms
  • Enable men to play a bigger role at home
  • Eliminate stereotypes in language and culture
  • Embed intersectionality (acknowledgment of the effect of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination) as part of gender initiatives
  • Create accountable and transparent institutions
  • Create structured processes to reduce embedded bias.

The report contains a review of industry research and action plans along with findings from a survey of more than 200 CEOs and senior executives.

It found that although some progress has been made, many Australians still hold rigid and outdated views on gender equity.

One in four of those surveyed believed children did not do as well if their father stayed at home and their mother was the chief breadwinner in the family.

The new research also revealed one in five women preferred men to be in charge of relationships, while just 55% of employers acknowledged that gender discrimination had a direct impact on the low number of women in leadership positions.

The new study follows 2022’s Breaking the Norm: Unleashing Australia’s Economic Potential report, which revealed that more than $128 billion could be added to the Australian economy each year if women and girls were empowered to reach their full economic potential.

Gender report infographic
“Addressing gender norms is critical to all systems change.”
Australians Investing in Women CEO Julie Reilly.
Australians Investing in Women CEO Julie Reilly
Australians Investing in Women CEO Julie Reilly.

The CEO of Australians Investing in Women, Julie Reilly, said business, government, community leaders and philanthropists have a duty to honestly examine whether they are doing enough to help achieve gender equity.

“Modern-day philanthropic initiatives are increasingly committed to systemic change, seeking to tackle and solve the root causes of complex issues rather than band-aiding repeatedly poor outcomes,” she said.

“Addressing gender norms is critical to all systems change.”

Gender report infographic 2

Deloitte Access Economics partner Sruthi Srikanthan said gender norms constrained women’s ability to participate in the economy and in society as equals.

This in turn helped widen the gap between the sexes in everything from hourly pay rates to domestic labour.

Gender stereotypes in advertising.

“Society has made many attempts to address this disadvantage, but reactive interventions need to be complemented by actions that seek to shift the underlying beliefs we hold about women that ultimately cause those gaps to persist,” said Ms Srikanthan.

She said gender norms consciously and unconsciously constrained decision making by incentivising people to act, treat others and structure society in ways traditionally expected of their gender.

“There is a significant economic and social opportunity to dismantling harmful gender norms, to the benefit of not just women, but men and children too.”

Ms Srikanthan said while events such as International Women’s Day were important for raising awareness, real change was driven when backed up by informed actions.

“Now is the time for enduring impact.”

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