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Maths and science should be compulsory in years 11 and 12 to improve female career opportunities, says Dawkins



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MATHS AND SCIENCE SHOULD BE COMPULSORY IN YEARS 11 AND 12 TO IMPROVE FF.MAT.F, CAREER OPPORTUNITIES. SAYS DAWKINS

Maths and one of physics, chemistry or another science should be compulsory for all Year 11 and 12 students in Australian schools, John Dawkins said today.

Mr Dawkins, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training told a conference in Canberra that he would ask State and Territory Education Ministers to make maths and science compulsory in order to boost the number of girls studying the subjects.

"Despite improvements in recent years, far more boys than girls are studying maths and the sciences which means that too many women limit their career options and limit Australia’s capacity to better perform in maths and science-based professions and industries," said Mr Dawkins.

"Girls continue to be under-represented in many university science courses, for example, engineering, and in TAFE technical courses, simply because too few of them study maths and science in senior high school.

"Frankly, this is a situation that I do not think we can tolerate. We must act to ensure women have better access to professions for too long the preserve of men and act to ensure Australia is making the best of its human resources.

Girls must be encouraged to make wider and smarter subject choices to give them the full opportunity to get into careers that are now dominated by men who have the maths and science pre-requisites to succeed, Mr Dawkins said.

"Girls and women should be encouraged to study in areas where they are under-represented and provided with the appropriate support services and flexibility in the organisation of their training."

PAR'S!AMENTARY ΐ-ΐ;.·Ï‡- MiCAH

- 2 -

Mr Dawkins, speaking to a conference on women working in male dominated occupations, said there was a serious imbalance in the type of education and training pursued by women.

"Subject and discipline choice in high school are key determinants of the range of occupation choices available to young women.

"For example, students who drop out of maths at year 10 close off at least half of their post-school options and most of these young people are girls."

The Minister said that more than 20 per cent of young women do not study maths in Year 12. Of the total number of Year 12 maths students, only 11 per cent of girls study the highest level of mathematics, compared with 25 per cent of boys.

In 1989-90, less than 10 per cent of Year 12 students who were girls studied maths and science courses.

"It is hardly clever for a country striving to be a clever country to limit the career prospects of more than naif of its population because girls are not encouraged to study maths and science in the senior years of school."

Mr Dawkins said that in many ways, schools are isolated from the real world and more information should be provided to students on comparative male and female earnings and the prospective income and career paths attached to certain occupations.

The Minister will take his proposal to make maths and science compulsory to the Australian Education Council (AEC), comprising all State, Federal and Territory Education Ministers.

The AEC will soon review the National Policy on the Education of Girls.

Mr Dawkins said he believed his proposal could have a considerable impact on opening up new career paths for women and improving their occupational and economic security.

June 19,1991

Enquiries: W ayne Burns Mr Dawkins’ media adviser 277 7460

SPEECH

η

BY

THE HON JOHN DAWKINS MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING

"DISMANTLING THE DIVIDE"

A CONFERENCE ON

WOMEN IN MALE-DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS

WEDNESDAY, 19 JUNE 1991

THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND TIMELY CONFERENCE.

OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, WOMEN IN AUSTRALIA, AND THROUGHOUT

THE WESTERN WORLD HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DISMANTLED MANY OF THE

LEGAL, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL STRUCTURES WHICH SERVED TO ENTRENCH

THEIR SUBORDINATION.

PRINCIPLES OF GENDER EQUALITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ARE NOW

RECOGNISED IN ALL AREAS OF GOVERNMENT POLICY MAKING. EQUAL

RIGHTS FOR WOMEN ARE UPHELD BY LAWS ON SEX DISCRIMINATION AND

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN ALMOST EVERY AUSTRALIAN STATE AND

TERRITORY.

AND THE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ACT, IN OPERATION SINCE 1987, HAS

BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN ACHIEVING RECOGNITION OF THESE

PRINCIPLES AMONG EMPLOYERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

WHILE THESE ARE APPLAUDABLE ACHIEVEMENTS, IN THE FUNDAMENTAL

AREA OF ECONOMIC EQUALITY, WOMEN STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO.

ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE HAS LONG BEEN RECOGNISED AS A KEY FACTOR

IN ACHIEVING EQUALITY FOR WOMEN/

AS JUSTICE MARY GAUDRON SAID IN 1985:

"EQUALITY IS A MEANINGLESS ABSTRACTION UNLESS IT IS FOUNDED

ON ECONOMIC SECURITY AND ECONOMIC STRENGTH".

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IN SPITE OF EQUAL WAGE RATES, AUSTRALIAN WOMEN STILL EARN LESS

MONEY THAN MEN.

WOMEN TODAY HAVE FAR GREATER EARNING POTENTIAL THAN THEY HAD 20

YEARS AGO - OVER 52 PER CENT OF WOMEN NOW PARTICIPATE IN THE

LABOUR FORCE, COMPARED TO 37 PER CENT IN 1966. NEVERTHELESS,

ON AVERAGE, A WOMAN EARNS ONLY 83% OF THE FULL-TIME MALE WAGE.

AND IN TERMS OF TOTAL EARNINGS THE RATIO OF FEMALE TO MALE

EARNINGS IS 65%.

THESE FIGURES DEMONSTRATE THAT IN SPITE OF ACHIEVING POLITICAL

AND LEGAL EQUALITY, WOMEN STILL FALL SOMEWAY SHORT OF ACHIEVING

ECONOMIC EQUALITY WITH MEN.

A PESSIMIST MIGHT WELL CONCLUDE THAT IN THEIR CAMPAIGN TO

ACHIEVE EQUALITY ON THE STATUTE BOOKS, AUSTRALIAN WOMEN HAVE

"WON THE BATTLE", BUT ARE STILL A LONG WAY FROM WINNING THE WAR.

BUT ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE, WE NEED TO RECOGNISE THAT WOMEN'S

LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION HAS INCREASED DRAMATICALLY IN RECENT

YEARS, AND WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE IN THE FUTURE.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ACHIEVING ECONOMIC

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IS ONE OF THE MORE COMPLEX ISSUES TO

CONFRONT US IN THE COMING DECADE.

WOMEN'S DISPROPORTIONATELY LOW ACCESS TO ECONOMIC RESOURCES IS

BASED ON FACTORS SUCH AS PATTERNS OF EDUCATION AND THE

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EVOLUTION OF AWARD PROVISIONS. IT HAS A COMPLEX AND

INTERACTIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOUR,

BOTH PAID AND UNPAID, AND WITH ALL THE SOCIAL RELATIONS WHICH

GO TO REPRODUCE GENDER DIVISIONS ACROSS THE LABOUR MARKET.

AT A MICRO ECONOMIC LEVEL, THE VARIABLES AFFECTING INDIVIDUAL

WOMEN INCLUDE: THE ROLE OF SELF-ESTEEM AND EXPECTATIONS; THE

IMPACT OF PAY INEQUITIES; THE EFFECT OF FAMILY

RESPONSIBILITIES; THE AVAILABILITY OF CHILD CARE; AND THE

PROVISION OF APPROPRIATE BRIDGING AND RETRAINING COURSES.

AT THE MACRO LEVEL OF THE LABOUR MARKET THE PROBLEM IS RELATED

TO THE ROLE AND AVAILABILITY OF PART-TIME WORK, THE ASSESSMENT

AND RECOGNITION OF SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES, AND THE

INTRODUCTION OF AWARD RESTRUCTURING.

IN RECOGNISING THE COMPLEX NATURE OF THIS PROBLEM, POLICY

MAKERS NEED TO TACKLE IT IN A CO-ORDINATED WAY - A PROCESS TO

WHICH THIS CONFERENCE WILL CONTRIBUTE.

ONE OF THE MAJOR FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE DISPARITY BETWEEN

MALE AND FEMALE EARNINGS IS OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION IN THE

WORKFORCE.

LABOUR FORCE DATA INDICATE THE PERSISTENCE OF HIGH LEVELS OF

OCCUPATIONAL AND INDUSTRY SEGREGATION IN AUSTRALIA.

MORE THAN HALF OF OUR WORKING WOMEN (55 PER CENT) ARE FOUND IN

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ONLY TWO OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS, CLERKS AND SALES PEOPLE, AND

PERSONAL SERVICE WORKERS.

BY INDUSTRY GROUP, THE STORY IS MUCH THE SAME. THE TOP FOUR

EMPLOYING INDUSTRIES FOR WOMEN ACCOUNT FOR 74 PER CENT OF

FEMALE EMPLOYMENT. THESE INDUSTRIES ARE COMMUNITY SERVICES,

WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE, FINANCE, PROPERTY AND BUSINESS

SERVICES, AND MANUFACTURING.

MORE DETAILED DISAGGREGATION OF OCCUPATIONS REVEALS A

CONCENTRATION OF PARTICULAR GROUPS OF WOMEN IN SOME INDUSTRIES,

SUCH AS WOMEN OF NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING BACKGROUND IN THE

TEXTILES, CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR INDUSTRY, AND A PAUCITY OF

WOMEN IN CERTAIN JOBS, SUCH AS MANAGERS AND ADMINISTRATORS.

A SECOND, IMPORTANT ASPECT OF OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION IS THAT

WOMEN PREDOMINATE IN THE PART-TIME AND CASUAL WORKFORCE.

INDEED, WOMEN NOW CONSTITUTE 76 PER CENT OF THE PART-TIME WORK

FORCE. ABOUT 41 PER CENT OF WOMEN'S EMPLOYMENT IS PART-TIME.

PART-TIME WORK IS NOT, OF ITSELF, A BAD THING. IN MANY

RESPECTS, THE AVAILABILITY OF PART-TIME WORK OFFERS PEOPLE A

WIDER RANGE OF JOB OPTIONS AND PROMOTES A MORE FLEXIBLE LABOUR

MARKET. THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT WHERE PART-TIME JOBS ARE

AVAILABLE, THEY ARE NOT USUALLY PART OF A STRUCTURED CAREER

PATH. AS A RESULT, PART-TIME WORK IS LOW ON FORMAL TRAINING

OPPORTUNITIES AND LACKS THE POTENTIAL FOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT.

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PART-TIME WORK ALSO TENDS TO OFFER LESS JOB SECURITY, AND LESS

ACCESS TO SUPERANNUATION AND OTHER EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS,

INCLUDING ADEQUATE OR FLEXIBLE LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS. WHERE

ALMOST ALL FULL-TIMERS GET SICK LEAVE AND 60 PER CENT HAVE

ACCESS TO SUPERANNUATION, ONLY 30 PER CENT OF PART-TIMERS GET

SICK LEAVE AND A VERY LOW 22 PER CENT HAVE ACCESS TO

SUPERANNUATION.

HISTORY CLEARLY INDICATES THAT SEGREGATION WILL REMAIN OR

PERHAPS WORSEN UNLESS EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO COUNTERACT THIS

TREND ARE IMPLEMENTED.

THESE STRATEGIES WILL NEED TO RECOGNISE THAT OCCUPATIONAL

SEGREGATION IS A COMPLEX PROBLEM WHICH DOES NOT LEND ITSELF TO

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS. THE STRUCTURE OF THE LABOR MARKET, AWARD

RESTRUCTURING, TRAINING AND EDUCATION ARE ALL AREAS WHERE

ACTION CAN TAKE PLACE. THE WAY AHEAD IS TO DEVELOP SOLUTIONS

WHICH ADDRESS THIS ISSUE ACROSS THE BOARD.

WORKFORCE 2001

MY DEPARTMENT WILL SHORTLY BE PUBLISHING THE REPORT OF A A

FORWARD LOOKING EXERCISE CALLED WORKFORCE 2001 WHICH FOCUSSES

UPON THE LIKELY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WORKFORCE IN TEN YEARS

TIME. THE ESTIMATES CONTAINED IN THE REPORT SUGGEST A MIXED

PICTURE FOR FEMALE EMPLOYMENT ESPECIALLY IN OCCUPATIONS THAT

ARE CURRENTLY FEMALE-DOMINATED. THE REPORT PREDICTS THAT

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EMPLOYMENT WILL INCREASE AT ABOVE AVERAGE RATES IN ONLY ONE OF

THE FEMALE-DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS (THIS BEING SALESWORKERS).

RELATIVELY HIGHLY SKILLED PROFESSIONAL OCCUPATIONS ARE EXPECTED

TO GROW MOST STRONGLY.

THE REPORT DOES NOT INDICATE OR ASSUME ANY SIGNIFICANT SHIFTS

IN THE PATTERNS OF WOMEN'S EMPLOYMENT. HOWEVER, THE RELATIVELY

GREATER INCREASE IN FEMALE LABOUR SUPPLY PREDICTED OVER THE

NEXT DECADE MAY WELL SEE THE MOVEMENT OF WOMEN INTO CURRENTLY

MALE-DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS.

BUT WITHOUT PURPOSEFUL INTERVENTION, IT IS LIKELY THAT

OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION WILL SURVIVE REGARDLESS OF THE

FORTUNES OF THE LABOUR MARKET AND THE ECONOMY.

EDUCATION

AUSTRALIA IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH IN YEAR 12

RETENTION RATES AND IN PARTICIPATION RATES IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

SIXTY FOUR PER CENT OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WILL BE COMPLETING YEAR

12 THIS YEAR AND 100,000 MORE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOW ATTENDING

HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS COMPARED TO 8 YEARS AGO.

THIS MASSIVE INCREASE IN PARTICIPATION WILL HAVE A PROFOUND

EFFECT ON THE SOCIETY, AND INDEED, ON THE ECONOMY OF THIS

NATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY. IF WE WANT TO CAPITALISE ON THIS

NEW RESOURCE, WE NEED TO HAVE A VERY CLEAR IDEA OF HOW TO USE

THE TALENTS, SKILLS, WIT AND INNOVATION OF ALL AUSTRALIANS.

FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW, YEAR 12 RETENTION RATES FOR GIRLS HAVE

BEEN HIGHER THAN FOR BOYS.

BUT THIS INCREASE IN FEMALE PARTICIPATION BELIES A CONTINUING

IMBALANCE IN THE TYPE OF EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING

WOMEN OBTAIN, PARTICULARLY IN TERMS OF ITS RELEVANCE TO THE JOB

MARKET. SUBJECT AND DISCIPLINE CHOICE ARE THE KEY DETERMINANTS

OF THE RANGE OF OCCUPATIONS AVAILABLE TO YOUNG WOMEN. FOR

EXAMPLE, STUDENTS WHO DROP MATHS AT THE END OF YEAR 10, CLOSE

OFF AT LEAST 50% OF THEIR POST-SCHOOL OPTIONS.

IN HIGH SCHOOL, GIRLS REMAIN HEAVILY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN MATHS

AND PHYSICS CLASSES, LARGELY DUE TO THE PERCEIVED LACK OF

CAREER RELEVANCE OF SCIENCE OR MATHS TO THE STEREOTYPED WORK

ROLES THAT GIRLS SEE WOMEN PERFORMING. CONVERSELY, GIRLS ARE

ENCOURAGED TO EXCELL IN THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES

BECAUSE THESE SUBJECTS ARE PERCEIVED TO BE OF GREATER CAREER

RELEVANCE.

IT IS LITTLE WONDER THEREFORE, THAT GIRLS CONTINUE TO BE

GROSSLY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN MANY UNIVERSITY SCIENCE COURSES,

FOR EXAMPLE ENGINEERING, DESPITE SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS IN

RECENT YEARS. THIS EXTENDS TO TAFE AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING

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WHERE WOMEN ARE HEAVILY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN THE LUCRATIVE

AREAS OF TECHNICIAL, ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER RELATED TRAINING

COURSES.

ON AN ENCOURAGING NOTE, WHILE WOMEN IN HIGHER EDUCATION STILL

TEND TO ENROL IN ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, WE ARE DEFINITELY

SEEING A TREND TOWARDS GREATER FEMALE ENROLMENT IN LAW,

MEDICINE, ACCOUNTING, BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS.

NEVERTHELESS THE TWO BROAD FIELDS OF STUDY WHICH DOMINATE

WOMEN'S ENROLMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION REMAIN THE ARTS, WHERE

NEARLY ONE THIRD ARE ENROLLED, AND TEACHER EDUCATION, WHICH

ACCOUNTS FOR ONE QUARTER OF FEMALE ENROLMENTS. IN CONTRAST,

THE MOST POPULAR BROAD FIELD OF STUDY FOR MEN IS BUSINESS,

FOLLOWED BY SCIENCE AND ARTS.

ACROSS THE EDUCATIONAL SPECTRUM, NARROW SUBJECT CHOICE IS

INFLUENCED BY, AND HAS AN IMPACT ON, OCCUPATIONAL CHOICE. WITH

THE FUTURE PROSPECTS FOR FEMALE DOMINATED OCCUPATIONS SOMEWHAT

MIXED, GIRLS MUST BE ENCOURAGED TO MAKE WIDER AND SMARTER

SUBJECT CHOICES IN BOTH EDUCATION AND TRAINING.

AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL, THIS WILL INVOLVE IMPORTANT ISSUES SUCH AS

THE NEED FOR CURRICULUM, MATERIALS AND TEACHING METHODS TO BE

GENDER INCLUSIVE. IN THE CURRENT AEC PROJECT TO DEVELOP COMMON

CURRICULUM FRAMEWORKS FOR ALL AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS, SPECIAL CARE

IS BEING TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT SUBJECT FRAMEWORKS AND ANY

ASSOCIATED CURRICULUM MATERIALS ARE GENDER-INCLUSIVE.

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COUNSELLING AND CAREER EDUCATION ALSO NEEDS TO BE ACCESSIBLE

AND FREE OF GENDER-BASED ASSUMPTIONS. INDEED, GIRLS AND WOMEN

SHOULD BE ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED TO STUDY IN AREAS WHERE THEY ARE

UNDER-REPRESENTED, AND PROVIDED WITH APPROPRIATE SUPPORT

SERVICES AND FLEXIBILITY IN THE ORGANISATION OF THEIR TRAINING.

AS AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH I INTEND TO PROPOSE TO THE

AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION COUNCIL, AS PART OF ITS FORTHCOMING REVIEW

OF THE NATIONAL POLICY ON THE EDUCATION OF GIRLS, THAT AT LEAST

MATHS AND ONE OF PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY OR ANOTHER SCIENCE BE

COMPULSORY FOR YEARS 11 AND 12.

IN MANY WAYS, SCHOOLS ARE ISOLATED FROM THE REAL WORLD AND MORE

INFORMATION SHOULD BE PROVIDED TO STUDENTS ON COMPARATIVE MALE

AND FEMALE EARNINGS, OR THE PROSPECTIVE INCOME AND CAREER PATHS

ATTACHED TO CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS. SCHOOLS ALSO HAVE AN

IMPORTANT ROLE IN CHALLENGING SOCIAL NORMS SUCH AS THE

PERCEPTION THAT GIRLS ARE INHERENTLY UNSUITED TO MATHS AND

SCIENCE.

HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS NEED TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT

TO REMOVE OVERLY RESTRICTIVE ENTRY CRITERIA FOR COURSES IN

WHICH WOMEN ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED. THERE IS NOW AMPLE

RESEARCH, FROM AUSTRALIA AND ABROAD, INDICATING THAT

INSTITUTIONS WHICH REDUCE THE NUMBER OF "HARD SCIENCE"

PRE-REQUISITES FOR COURSES LIKE ENGINEERING, EXPERIENCE A RAPID

INCREASE IN FEMALE ENROLMENTS, WITH NO EVIDENCE OF ANY

ATTENDANT DECLINE IN ACADEMIC STANDARDS.

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THE QUESTION OF APPROPRIATE ENTRY POINTS, IN PARTICULAR THE

RE-ENTRY OF WOMEN INTO THE WORKFORCE WHO HAVE TAKEN TIME OUT TO

ASSUME A PREDOMINANT ROLE IN PARENTING IS ALSO IMPORTANT.

ENTRY TO SKILLED OCCUPATIONS SHOULD BE LESS RESTRICTIVE, AND

WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE DENIED OPPORTUNITIES TO UPGRADE THEIR

SKILLS. THE AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATE BRIDGING COURSES AND

ADULT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES, ALONG WITH MORE CREATIVE AND

FLEXIBLE EDUCATION DELIVERY ARE IMPORTANT IN THIS PROCESS.

IN RECOGNISING THAT WOMEN ARE BY NO MEANS A HOMOGENEOUS GROUP,

WE MUST ALSO ENSURE THAT DIFFERENT RESPONSES ARE PROVIDED TO

MEET THE DIVERSE EDUCATION AND TRAINING NEEDS OF SPECIFIC

GROUPS, SUCH AS MIGRANTS AND ABORIGINALS. CARE MUST BE TAKEN

TO ENSURE THAT GROUPS OF WOMEN DO NOT CONTINUE TO BE DOUBLY

DISADVANTAGED IN THE JOB MARKET, AND THAT GAINS MADE ARE

EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED ACROSS THE OTHER DIVIDES OF CLASS, RACE,

ETHNICITY AND PHYSICAL ABILITY.

TRAINING AND AWARD RESTRUCTURING

ON THE TRAINING SIDE, AUSTRALIA IS ENTERING AN ERA OF MORE

REALISTIC AND BROADER PROCESSES OF SKILLS RECOGNITION. THESE

CHANGES SHOULD HELP TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION

IN THE WIDER WORKFORCE.

AWARD RESTRUCTURING HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BROADEN WOMEN'S

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OCCUPATIONAL BASE AND TO IMPROVE THEIR OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE

VERTICALLY THROUGH AN OCCUPATION. IN PARTICULAR IT CAN

RE-DEFINE ENTRY-LEVEL SKILL REQUIREMENTS AND PROVIDE A FORMAL

FRAMEWORK FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING WHICH IS NOT

EASILY IGNORED.

AS A RESULT OF AWARD RESTRUCTURING, SKILLS RECOGNITION WILL BE

BASED ON ACQUIRED COMPETENCIES AND LINKED TO DEFINED CAREER

PATHS. THE DEFINITION OF CAREER PATHS WITH CLEARLY LINKED AND

ACCESSIBLE TRAINING WILL HELP WOMEN TO MOVE UP TO NEW LEVELS OF

SKILL AND TO MOVE ACROSS INTO NEW OCCUPATIONS.

THE TRAINING REFORM AGENDA WILL FACILITATE THIS PROCESS. THE

INTRODUCTION OF COMPETENCY-BASED ASSESSMENT, RECOGNITION OF

PRIOR LEARNING AND MODULAR TRAINING WILL BE OF PARTICULAR

BENEFIT TO WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE.

THE INTRODUCTION OF FORMAL SKILLS ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION CAN

ALSO HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE STATUS AND PROSPECTS OF

TRADITIONALLY FEMALE OCCUPATIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE

IMPROVEMENTS IN PAY AND CONDITIONS FOR NURSES WHICH HAVE

OCCURRED OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS ARE PARTLY THE RESULT OF

NURSES TRAINING BEING SHIFTED TO THE FORMAL EDUCATION SECTOR.

PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN THIS AREA OF TRAINING

REFORM AND INDEED, IN EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION AS A WHOLE, IS

FOR WOMEN TO BECOME EMPOWERED BY ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING IN THE

DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.

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IN THE TRAINING AREA, THIS WILL REQUIRE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE,

GREATER AWARENESS AMONG WOMEN OF THE ELEMENTS OF THE TRAINING

REFORM AGENDA, AND THE POTENTIAL IT OFFERS FOR WORKPLACE

REFORM. SECONDLY, WOMEN NEED TO BE ABLE TO USE THIS

INFORMATION BY BEING REPRESENTED, IN MORE THAN A TOKEN WAY,

WITHIN ALL THE VARIOUS DECISION-MAKING FORUMS AT THE STATE,

COMMONWEALTH, INDUSTRY AND WORKPLACE LEVEL.

CONCLUSION

I WILL CONCLUDE BY SAYING THAT THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY DOES NOT

BENEFIT FROM HAVING ONE OF THE MOST GENDER-SEGREGATED

WORKFORCES IN THE WESTERN WORLD.

AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMIC POTENTIAL IS UNDERMINED BY THE POOR

ALLOCATION OF HUMAN RESOURCES. DUE TO AN INDEFENSIBLE GENDER

BIAS, JOBS ARE ALLOCATED IN A WAY WHICH HARDLY MAXIMISES THE

PRODUCTIVITY OF OUR WORKFORCE. IT IS DEPLORABLE THAT THERE ARE

SO FEW ENGINEERS IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE WOMEN.

DUE TO OUTDATED GENDER ASSUMPTIONS, AUSTRALIA LOSES VIRTUALLY

HALF OF ITS POTENTIAL POOL OF MATHEMATICALLY ABLE WORKERS

BEFORE THEY LEAVE SCHOOL. IF GIRLS WERE ENCOURAGED TO _

PARTICIPATE IN MATHS AND SCIENCE TO THE SAME DEGREE AS BOYS,

AUSTRALIA WOULD BENEFIT FROM MORE, AND BETTER QUALIFIED,

SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS AND TECHNICIANS IN THE FUTURE.

IN THE LONG-TERM, "DISMANTLING THE DIVIDE" BETWEEN MALE AND

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FEMALE OCCUPATIONS CAN ONLY IMPROVE AUSTRALIA'S POTENTIAL FOR

SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH.

BUT IF WE LEAVE ECONOMICS ASIDE, WHAT WE'RE REALLY TALKING

ABOUT IS SOCIAL JUSTICE. ALL GOVERNMENTS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY

TO ENCOURAGE EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF GENDER, TO WORK IN AN AREA

BEST SUITED TO THEIR PERSONAL SKILLS AND INTERESTS.

WE SHOULD NOT TOLERATE A SYSTEM WHICH MARGINALISES WOMEN, WHICH

RELEGATES THEM TO THE LOW- AND UNSKILLED SECTIONS OF THE LABOUR

FORCE AND WHICH LEAVES THEM MORE VULNERABLE TO STRUCTURAL

CHANGE AND MARKET ADJUSTMENTS.

TO FULFILL THIS GOAL, WE NEED TO EXAMINE THE WIDE RANGE OF

STRUCTURAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE THE PATTERN OF

WOMEN'S LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION.

WHILE I HAVE SEPARATED OUT THESE VARIABLES FOR DISCUSSION

PURPOSES TODAY, I WOULD EXPECT THE STRATEGIES WHICH EMERGE FROM

THIS CONFERENCE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THESE FACTORS INTERACT IN A

COMPLEX WAY.

I HAVE SPENT A LOT OF MY TIME THIS MORNING LOOKING AT THE PAST,

AT THE HISTORY AND CAUSES OF OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION, AND AT

THE ISSUES IT RAISES FOR US. THESE ISSUES, OF COURSE, CANNOT

ALL BE SOLVED OVERNIGHT AND MANY REQUIRE LONG-TERM STRATEGIES

AND SOLUTIONS.

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IT IS IN THIS CONTEXT THAT I TURN TO YOU FOR ADVICE. I WISH

YOU SUCCESS IN YOUR DAY OF DELIBERATIONS AND LOOK FORWARD VERY

MUCH TO HEARING THE OUTCOMES OF THIS CONFERENCE.

THANK YOU.