CONGRATULATIONS men, you’re off the hook — at least a little.
The image of misogynists in ties blocking women from the corporate boardroom isn’t quite as prevalent as we think, says Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker.
“At first we thought it was just guys standing in the way, but it’s much more complex than that,”she says, reflecting on the six months since the committee released its Filling the Pool report on WA’s corporate gender imbalance.
“There are society-wide and infrastructure issues.”
She says during recent male-only workshops to discuss how companies have responded to the report, the fellas were genuinely interested in trying to address gender imbalance.
Despite those attitudes, when the committee interviewed 170-odd women for the report, an astonishing 80 per cent would only participate anonymously for fear of being punished at work.
Ms Fulker says the fear is palpable.
Childcare remains a critical issue at all times — during work hours, before and after school, and during holidays.
“The number of daycare places is low and you have to pay for your kid even if they are not there to keep your place,” she says.
“And there’s generally no childcare at schools, so if you’ve got two kids and one’s in school and the other’s not, you have to drive to two places before you even get to work.
“In the report it found that if you have two kids in daycare, it’s not worth your while going to work if you’re on a median wage, as what you earn is all eaten up by the fees.”
Ms Fulker says another “tsunami” facing the country is ageing parents.
“With everyone living longer, and people having kids when they’re older, some women are finding themselves with dependent children and parents — and even sometimes in-laws.
“It can leave women wondering ‘when is my career going to take off again’.”
Ms Fulker says WA must make a philosophical shift and start valuing outcomes, rather than output. She says skewed values leads to people feeling obliged to work longer and harder than everyone else, leading to stress and burnout.