Tag Archives: women work

Our mothers challenged many stereotypes in the 70s and were still doing it today, particularly in the workplace. We really are still dusting off the residue of career stereotypes that were entrenched in our parents era. Whilst there has been some blurring towards non-gender specific occupations there are many that are genderised. Just naming a few occupations such as landscapers, housecleaners, electricians, nannies, babysitters and interior designers still has us categorising them in either a male or female occupation.

The fact is, many females are moving into male dominated careers and some males are finding the more feminine careers to their liking. But theres a long way to go before weve reached equality. Women still have many barriers to overcome when it comes to career choice, employment opportunity and equitable wages.

The necessity to focus on employment issues for women and towards developing female friendly policy has largely been driven by the high entry of women into the labour market. Not only are females today more career driven, but also the economic necessity of our times places a financial pressure on mothers to contribute to the familys weekly income.

Women now make up over 45{16b9a5ac788756a792acab6370d2a74ec0f609c7f0f3dea22fdcdaa9b5e4cf4d} of the Australian workforce and the proportion of both parents working fulltime has also risen to over 62{16b9a5ac788756a792acab6370d2a74ec0f609c7f0f3dea22fdcdaa9b5e4cf4d}. In light of this, it could be argued that women bear the heaviest burden of family care and that the Australian workplace environment is moving far too slowly to address the inequities and needs faced by the working woman.

When it comes to career choice, not only are there the normal non-gender specific barriers such as personal fit, skills, experience and knowledge but also a woman can face other issues that have a cyclical nature, feeding off the other , such as:

Stereotyping  Even now we have many occupations that can still be categorised as either male or female. This can limit the apparent choice for females. A nanny is seen as generally a female occupation whilst a plumber is viewed as predominantly male. A text by P Tully, titled Counselling Issues for Women in Non-traditional Careers found that these feminine occupations can have a lower wage and a lower prestige. Tully argued that within these occupations it has been found that there are fewer opportunities and that female personnel are treated as transient and easily replaceable members of staff.

Discrimination: Hand in hand with stereotyping comes discrimination. The discrimination and stereotyping of female career choices can be harshly perpetuated through family values, a mangers attitude or even a career counsellors belief system. Tully believed that there was a real need for society to overcome some long held and false beliefs about women in the workforce. Initially those beliefs included the idea that women would take away the jobs from men. Employers may hold the assumption that the cost of training a female is wasted because they do not stay in employment as long as their male counterpart. On top of that an employer has some legal obligation to pay some means of maternity support when a female staff member has time away from work to have a baby.

Poor Self-Efficacy: A persons efficacy relates to their power of effectiveness, their virtue, energy, potency or efficiency. Some academics such as, Herr and Cramer who wrote Career Development and Counselling of Special Populations (1992) highlighted the fundamental differences between men and women in terms of their own self- efficacy beliefs. They found that women tend to lack strong expectations of their personal efficacy and therefore fail to fully realise their talents and capabilities. To compound this issue, women appear to have fewer opportunities to demonstrate successes in task accomplishments and therefore are unable to raise their self-efficacy. Women also lack the number of same-sex role models as men, which could, in turn, break this cycle.

Pioneer Versus Homemaker: Institutional practice by employers has limited womens choices. Women are placed in a difficult position over the conflict between choosing the role of homemaker or career woman. The lack of childcare available to working mums as well as the economic need to enter the workforce has seen women channelled into low-paying and low prestige positions, usually on a part-time or casual basis. This therefore perpetuates the false beliefs and stereotypes about women in the workforce.

The limiting factors of not having a flexible workplace environment for women who choose to have a family, also impacts on her choice of career and the timing associated with leaving the workforce to have a baby. The many issues faced by women in a once traditionally male workforce have constrained her choice of career, achievement in her career and her personal fulfilment. The demands and needs placed on her by societal expectation, family, husband/partner, financial necessity and her own need for personal fulfilment can lead a woman to feeling incapable of fully succeeding in her many roles that she takes on day to day. She carries with her a sense of guilt for not fully succeeding in any of those areas of her life. With our unemployment rate at an all time low, there has never been a better time than now to reform our stereotypes, remove career choice barriers and create more female friendly workplaces.