WHILE MANY ASPECTS of working life have changed in recent decades, the inequality of outcomes experienced by male and female employees has been remarkably resistant. In particular, the progress of women into leadership positions within the workforce has been dismal. Within corporate Australia, for example, the proportion of female chief executives in ASX200 companies only increased from 1.3 per cent in 2002 to 3.5 per cent in 2012. During the same time span, the proportion of executive management positions held by women increased from 8 per cent to 10 per cent while, for board directors, the proportion increased from 8 per cent to 12 per cent. The stats get worse when looking at the full ASX500: only 2.4 per cent of CEOs are women, and they fill just 9 per cent of executive positions and company directorships.
Many advantages have been reported to result from increased female representation in an organisation’s leadership, including improved performance on a range of profit-related indicators. Nevertheless, in Australia the upper echelons of many organisations and companies continue to contain a preponderance of men. This appears to have led to the stagnation of workplace culture, with many organisations still expecting and rewarding work patterns and practices that are most compatible with employees fitting the traditional male breadwinner ideal. That is, someone who can work long hours and will prioritise work over all other aspects of their life.
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