Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equity in the Workplace: Why aren’t we there yet?


Gender inequity continues to exist in all facets of society, community and the workplace. This paper seeks to explore the myths and truisms about gender equity in the workplace, particularly in large organisations where gendered hierarchies and entrenched behaviours tend to prevail. Despite evidence of concern, there is limited understanding of how gender inequity impacts on performance and culture in the workplace. Drawing from a range of sources, this paper provides an overview of insights into current trends of womens employment, prospects through the ranks, and progress throughout the work lifecycle. It considers challenges arising from the outset: the recruitment of women and potential to succeed, the pervasive unconscious bias and perceptions about the capabilities of women, and gendered roles and spaces. The paper explores impediments to success for women at the individual (personal), institutional and culturally constructed levels, and analyses both contributing and impacting factors in this equation. Implications of the intersection between gender and the broader dimensions of diversity (such as ethnicity, age, disability) are also explored. The paper identifies and recommends strategies for cultural change in the workplace, including policy development and implementation to ensure that gender equity transitions to core business. It includes strategies that look to how organisational leaders move from valuing equity and diversity to taking positive action, even where the culture is not readily conducive. A whole of institution approach is considered and a brief case study of an institution in the process of change is presented.

Author Information
Prem Ramburuth, The University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia), Australia
Ann Brewer, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: GLOBAL2016
Stream: Gender studies / Feminist Theory

This paper is part of the GLOBAL2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon