Factors driving workplace gender segregation in Australia
As explained in Chapter 2, vertical and horizontal gender segregation
manifests itself across much of the Australian workforce. Workplace composition
is much more than just a function of individual choices and actions. Patterns occur
across industries and occupations because individuals’ choices are constrained by
a range of structural factors and social norms.
In Australia, systemic factors such as caring responsibilities and the
availability of flexible work have combined with expectations about traditional
gender roles to restrict the range of roles that are available (or perceived to
be available) to men and women.
As will be discussed in Chapter 4, the gender segregation that results
from this narrowing of choices has ongoing consequences for individuals and our
economy. Unfortunately, without deliberate action, neither the consequences of
gender segregation nor its causes are likely to ease in the future.
Globalisation and technological change are driving wholesale changes to both
the structure of Australia’s economy, and the jobs that are available to
Australians. The ongoing influence of structural and social factors, however,
means that new opportunities continue to reflect gendered patterns of work.
It is predicted that professional, scientific and technical services,
education and training, retail trade, health care, and social assistance will
provide for more than half of all new jobs over the next five years.
Although women have relatively large shares of employment in four of these five
industries, they are under-represented in senior roles. Further, these feminised
jobs and industries have lower average remuneration
than those dominated by men.
This chapter sets out (1) the structural and systemic factors and (2)
the social norms and expectations that have led to gender segregation in the
past, and that continue to impose themselves on Australia’s workforce.
In doing so, it is necessary to traverse many issues regarding women’s
work and economic activities, such as the gendered responsibility for care, part-time
work and flexibility, child care, women on boards and in senior management
positions, and gender stereotypes about work. These issues that have already
been covered in far greater detail by other, more specialised parliamentary
inquiries than it is possible to do in this report.
This report aims to provide only a high level understanding of these
issues, and instead concentrates on the contribution they make to gender
segregation in the workplace.
Structural and systemic factors
Consequences of the gendered
responsibility for care
Responsibility for unpaid care is not evenly distributed. Women shoulder
the majority of the duty of caring for the young, the sick and the elderly in
their families, friendship groups and communities.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) estimated in 2013 that 5.5
million Australians between 15 and 64 years had unpaid caring responsibilities,
and 72.5 per cent of these were women.
It is beyond the scope of this inquiry to definitely address questions about
whether this division of caring responsibilities is either fair or efficient,
but the committee notes that it places a heavy emotional, time and financial
burden on women.
The failure of our workplaces and workplace relations system to
adequately respond to the gendered nature of care, however, creates structural
and systemic pressures leading to gender segregation.
This section examines these structural and systemic factors including
the availability of part-time and flexible working arrangements, child care,
and opportunities for advancement, as well as proposed responses to these
Part-time and flexible work
The need for work that can fit
The gendered nature of caring responsibilities forces women to seek
flexible and part-time employment.
Ms Amanda McIntyre, First Assistant Secretary, Office for Women, Department
of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) stated that:
Once women have entered the workforce, staying
engaged—particularly after they have children, but also where they have other
responsibilities such as elder care—is influenced by these caring
responsibilities. The disparity in the share of unpaid care due to the
entrenched underlying gender stereotypes impacts women's participation.
Women comprise 46.2 per cent of all employees in Australia but they are
heavily concentrated in the part-time workforce, constituting 71.6 per cent of
all part-time employees. Women make up 36.7 per cent of all full-time employees
and 54.7 per cent of all casual employees.
Australia has one of the highest rates of part-time work in the world.
Amongst Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
countries, for example, Australia has the third-lowest rate of women in
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 2015 ̶ 16 more than two in
five employed women worked part-time (44 per cent), compared with 15 per cent
of employed men.
According to a 2012 report by the Grattan Institute:
While 55 per cent of employed women work full time, 85 per
cent of employed men do, with the remainder working part time. These rates are
substantially lower than in many other OECD countries...While Australia is just above
the OECD average, the average includes countries with very low participation
rates, such as Greece.
Some of these are northern European countries with a distinct social
compact which may not be easily replicated in Australia. However, female
workforce participation is also substantially higher in Canada, a country that
is culturally, economically and institutionally similar to Australia.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) reported that flexible work
is a priority for women:
Over successive rounds of enterprise bargaining, when we go
in to bargain for a workforce that is predominantly women who may well have
caring responsibilities, their No. 1 priority is making sure that their rosters
cannot change without advance notice, that they get parental leave, that they
have caring leave when they need it to care for children et cetera. ... people
could say, 'Well, people get what they want,' but it is a bit of a perverse
consequence that, because women have historically taken on more caring
responsibilities, they have had to [prioritise] their bargains in a certain
The availability of flexible and part-time
Not all industries and workplaces are equally flexible, however. The
uneven distribution of flexible and part-time employment opportunities funnels
women into particular industries and sectors.
According to Workplace Gender Equality Unit (WGEA) data for 2015 ̶ 16 (see Figure 3.1
female-dominated organisations have the highest proportion of
part-time and casual employment as a proportion of all employees;
female-dominated organisations have the lowest proportion of
full-time employees as a proportion of all employees compared to male-dominated
and mixed industries; and
the proportion of part-time employees in male-dominated
organisations in 2015 ̶
16 is only 5 per cent.
and number of full-time, part-time and casual employees, WGEA data 2015 ̶ 16
WGEA reported that less flexibility in male dominated workplaces tends
to deter women:
Higher-paying male dominated workplaces have smaller
proportions of part-time employees—around the five per cent mark. They tend to
offer less flexibility and their full-time employees tend to work longer hours.
These are all factors that may deter women with families and caring
responsibilities from entering male dominated industries and occupations, so
they often have to gravitate to the lower-paying female dominated industries
because they offer the highest proportion of flexible work—particularly
part-time and casual work.
In industries other than health and social services, obtaining flexible
workplace arrangements can be difficult. Australia 'lacks an effective
enforcement or appeal mechanism providing little protection or support to the
most vulnerable in the workforce such as precarious, unskilled, low paid or
un-unionised workers' when requesting flexible workplace arrangements.
The Fair Work Act 2009 provides employees with at least 12
months’ continuous service (and long-term casuals) with the right to request
flexible working arrangements in a range of circumstances, including where the
employee is the parent, or responsible for the care, of a child who is of
school age or under. There is also a specific right for parents returning from
parental leave to request part-time work.
Department of Employment (DoE) noted that, while all modern awards and
enterprise agreements provide for individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs), there
has only been a small take-up of these arrangements (two per cent per cent of
DoE spoke about the effectiveness of the right to request flexible work
...the Fair Work Commission...found that there was 80 per cent
in 2009 ̶ 2012,
or thereabouts, and 90 per cent where requests were granted without any change.
They are really very high percentages that have been indicated through those assessment
mechanisms that people are having their requests granted.
Flexibility for whom?
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) mentioned barriers to flexible
workplace practices for men and women within the workplace relations framework,
noted by the Productivity Commission (PC) in the Final Report of its recent
review of the Australian workplace relations framework. Ai Group indicated that
this view is shared by many employers:
These inflexibilities make it very difficult for employers to
implement alternative working arrangements for workers who desire (or require)
more flexible working arrangements.
The Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) cautioned that flexibility
means different things to employers and employees. According to Professor Heap,
Lead Organiser, VTHC:
...when the employers are talking about it, they are generally
talking about flexibility for business arrangements, and that is why they
promote insecure work arrangements, because it gives them the ultimate choice
to be able to move their labour market around.
But, when women are talking about flexibility, they are
talking about being able to have roles which will allow them to do drop-offs
and pick-ups in relation to care and school and ensure that they can work their
hours of work around the obligations of their family.
Carers Australia NSW noted that some workplaces have begun to implement
a 'flexibility by design' approach, whereby flexibility is a priority in
determining the structure of individual positions and whole teams:
Proponents of this measure suggest that it prevents the need
to accommodate individual scenarios and instead recognises that all employees
are likely to have some form of caring commitment outside of work at some
Addressing the need for flexible
and part-time work
A number of submissions recommended specific legislative changes to
strengthen employee access to flexible work arrangements, as follows:
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) recommended the
following changes to the Fair Work Act:
amend Part 2-2 (section 84 of the National Employment Standards)
to include a right for a full-time employee to return to work from parental
leave on a part-time basis, or the right for a part-time employee to return on
reduced hours, with a right to return to pre-parental leave hours until the
child is school age; and
amend the right to request flexible work provisions to allow a
role for the Fair Work Commission where there is a disagreement between the
employer and the employee regarding requests for flexible work.
Representatives from the AMWU told the committee that:
If you are making an application due to caring arrangements
for some alterations of changes of hours, the employer can easily dismiss the
application without sitting down, really, and discussing how it can be managed
New South Wales Council of Social Service (NCOSS) suggested that
flexible working arrangements should cover all forms of caring responsibilities
and be available to men and women:
...flexible working arrangements need to cover all forms of
caring responsibilities and be actively available to men and women...it is a
The Paid Parental Leave Scheme, we would say, could be
improved over time to allow for 26 weeks paid parental leave, ideally, offering
four weeks to a partner on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. ...we need strong and
responsive authorities to advocate for these positions and strong, independent
monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that can hold us to account. The ASU recommended
amending the Sex Discrimination Act to recognise indirect discrimination on the
grounds of 'family responsibilities', and include a positive duty on employers
to reasonably accommodate the needs of workers who are pregnant and/or have
Some witnesses were cautious about introducing further regulation,
asserting that increasing the regulatory burden could damage the performance
and competitiveness of Australian business.
Ai Group recommended promoting dialogue between employers and employees
rather than increasing regulation.
Normalising flexible work
Some submitters emphasised the benefits of normalising flexible work
arrangements. Despite the negative stereotype, there are potential benefits for
employers; a study by Ernst & Young found women working part-time waste the
least amount of time at work.
Several submissions recommended measures to better manage the care
responsibilities of both men and women. The AHRC's 2013 Investing in Care report
included measures like:
normalising flexible work arrangements for both men and women to
ensure the equal distribution of unpaid care work; and
preserving and improving paid parental leave measures, including
the introduction of ‘use it or lose it’ father-specific parental leave modelled
on the schemes that exist in Nordic countries.
United Voice proposed a model of care work in which the care of young
children and the elderly is shared between state-funded providers and both
parents, underpinned by significantly higher wages for care work in undervalued
industries, and expanded legislative mechanisms for parental leave and flexible
Access to child care
Access to child care is important in helping women manage caring
responsibilities. Affordable and reliable child care provides women with more
options, and allows them to take on less flexible or full-time work in fields
that otherwise would not be open to them.
The VTHC cited research establishing a positive correlation between
increasing child care uptake and lowering of the gender earnings gap, and the
level of child care subsidies and labour force participation.
Access to child care accordingly is capable of mitigating some of the
structural factors contributing to workplace gender segregation. Submitters
indicated, however, that there were issues in finding affordable and reliable child
Department of Employment and Training (DET) pointed out that the Productivity
Commission has estimated that:
...there may be up to 165,000 parents (on a full-time
equivalent basis) who would like to work, or work more hours, but are not able
to do so because they are experiencing difficulties with the cost of, or access
to, suitable child care. These are parents (mostly mothers) who are currently either
not in the labour force or are working part time.
DET indicated that returning to work after having children has a
significant impact on job choices, with implications for gender segregation as
well as their life-long earning potential':
Where accessible and affordable child care is not available,
parents may be unable to return to their job of choice but instead may be
forced into jobs that provide flexibility for part time work.
These include investment in the care economy and ensuring the
payment of decent wages and conditions in the early childhood education and
The need to invest in child care
Several submissions noted the need to invest in the early childhood
education and care sector. On the one hand, access to child care is a factor
leading to gender segregation. On the other hand, as a low paid, female-dominated
industry offering flexible work, the child care sector is also a case study of
the consequences of gender segregation.
Professor Meg Smith, a member of Work + Family Policy Roundtable (W+FPR),
recommended policy measures that directly address the undervaluation of work commonly
undertaken by women in sectors such as child care.
The ACTU recommended a range of specific policy measures aimed as
supporting workers with caring responsibilities.
Figure 3.2—Public spending on early
childhood education and care as a % of GDP, 2013 and latest data available
OECD Social Expenditure Database (OECD countries); Eurostat (for Bulgaria,
Cyprus, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta and Romania).
Source: PF3.1: Public
spending on child care and early education, OECD Family database, https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/PF3_1_Public_spending_on_child
care_and_early_education.pdf (accessed 10 May 2017).
The committee noted the findings of recent research into the benefits
for investing in the care economy in comparable jurisdictions (see Figure 3.2
above). A 2016 analysis of seven OECD countries by the UK Women's Budget Group
concluded that investing the equivalent of two per cent of GDP in the female-dominated
care industry would produce larger employment effects than the equivalent investment
in the male-dominated construction industry.
Chapter 5 provides further detail about polices and legislation that
address gender segregation in comparable overseas jurisdictions.
The career cost of flexible and part-time
Women’s need for flexibility in work arrangements has contributed to
vertical and horizontal gender segregation in Australian workplaces, with an
over-representation of women professionals in lower-paid roles and the
under-representation of women in senior, management and leadership roles.
Women regularly choose part-time or casual employment 'below their skill
level' so that they can manage both paid work and unpaid family
responsibilities, suggesting that the availability of part-time work is a
significant factor contributing to vertical and horizontal gender segregation
in Australian workplaces.
The VTHC noted, for example, that women frequently reported having to
take lower status roles in order to get part-time hours or being forced to move
to less secure working arrangements in order to achieve the flexibility they
needed to accommodate their caring responsibilities.
These decisions are sometimes made for women. Traditional career evaluations
place a higher reward on a full-time uninterrupted career trajectory. A broken
career pattern can lead to stereotyping of women as less committed to their
careers. This is also associated with professional isolation, difficulties with
re-entering the workforce, and pressure to return from maternity leave early.
Many women with caring responsibilities feel they are penalised in their
jobs, and are more likely to be employed in lower paying jobs and in less
The Police Federation of Australia (PFA) provided some results from
their survey of flexible working arrangements (FWAs) in the police force.
Results indicate that 80 per cent of police on flexible working arrangements are
women. Additionally, 85 per cent of police on FWAs are constables, with
sergeants and commissioned officers under-represented. The draft report noted
feedback from respondents:
...because they are not full-timers they [believe they] are
consistently overlooked, not being considered for or offered training.
Social norms and stereotypes
Social norms and gender stereotypes reinforce gender segregation by
limiting the roles deemed appropriate for men and women. This section will examine
how gender expectations express themselves in education, training and
throughout a person’s working life. It will then examine female participation
in STEM fields before considering men and women working in non-stereotypical
industries and jobs.
Gender stereotypes about work
Gendered stereotypes of industries and occupations play a crucial role
in creating gender segregation in the Australian workforce.
According to Women in Super (WiS):
There are deeply entrenched views in Australia regarding the
types of careers that girls/women have traditionally been expected to do and
what boys/men should do. Although this has changed somewhat over recent years,
the gender segregation data produced by WGEA shows that it may well be the
expectations of the workforce especially graduate and Gen Y’s that has changed
but not the workforce itself.
Although gender stereotypes can sometimes lead to men and women opting
out of particular fields, in many cases these decisions are made for them by
companies’ recruiting and HR practices. Both of these situations are considered
The role of gender stereotypes in
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) emphasised that,
along with other measures, there is a need to challenge broader societal
stereotypes in order to bring about cultural change within workplaces:
Employer efforts to achieve gender equity in the workplace
are important and are to be encouraged, but should run in parallel with a
broader social discussion that challenges stereotypes and effects cultural
change, so that women and their partners can make considered choices about the
way they balance work and personal priorities.
WGEA described gendered stereotypes:
...few men are attracted to lower paying female dominated
industries because of the stereotypes around men's work, which has most likely
contributed to the lack of males in health and education.
Ai Group described the difficulties in recruiting females to jobs
traditionally done by males, even when actively targeting females.
The AMWU described about the reasons for the low numbers of women in
technical and trade positions:
Young women are still diverted, if you like, at the high
school level, from considering going into non-traditional fields. There is
report that was released last year that shows that, if they do so choose, there
is quite an extreme amount of harassment and bullying that the young women
face—they have to go through trials and tribulations to complete their
apprenticeship—so there need to be structural changes.
The role of gender stereotypes in
The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) reported that unconscious
bias contributes to the pay gap:
The issue of unconscious bias was flagged as one explanation
for really quite a strong finding in the last WGEA gender equity report, which
sought to compare the pay of male and female employees on graduate training
programs in private organisations.
...until we deal with the issue with unconscious bias, it will
be very hard to drive gender pay gaps to zero. A recent survey of Australia's
business, government and not-for-profit sectors found that gender bias in
feedback and promotion decisions also inhibits the equal progress of women into
leadership positions, with 60 per cent per cent of men and 41 per cent per cent
of women promoted twice or more in the past five years.
A number of submitters provided evidence about programs they were
undertaking to reduce the role of gender stereotypes and unconscious bias in
Ai Group reported that its members are seeking to remove unconscious
bias in recruitment and promotion.
The Reserve Bank's share of female graduates, from fields as diverse as
economics, finance, law, mathematics and statistics, has increased as a result
of changing its recruitment practices:
We engaged more intensively with universities so that
students knew about the Reserve Bank as a place where one can have a rewarding
career in an inclusive environment.
We used separate teams for shortlisting and interviewing, to
reduce unconscious biases at later stages of the selection process. We moved
our recruitment campaign earlier and started fast-tracking the obviously good
candidates to interview and decision before deciding on the full slate of
The ACCI argued that business leaders can play an important role in
driving structural and cultural change within their own organisations and
promoting the benefits of a diverse workforce more broadly.
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) reviews practices to
identify and address unconscious bias as part of the Australian Public Service
(APS) gender equality strategy. The strategy:
...requires all agencies to have tailored but ambitious gender
equality targets across all leadership levels and business areas and to
implement action plans to reach them. Every portfolio department has now done
this and many of those plans are already public. Agencies are also required to
review their recruitment, retention and performance management practices to
address areas of gender inequality, including by identifying and mitigating
Bias is not always unconscious and not always covert. This committee
received troubling evidence about workplace cultures that were threatening and
hostile to women.
The Victorian Trades Hall Comission undertook a survey of women’s
experiences at work:
64 per cent of respondents have experienced bullying, harassment
or violence in their workplace;
60 per cent of respondents reported feeling ‘unsafe,
uncomfortable or at risk’ in their workplace;
44 per cent of respondents reported experiencing discrimination
23 per cent of respondents don’t feel that they are treated with
respect at work; and
19 per cent of respondents cited ‘unsafe work environment’ as a
factor in their decision to leave paid work.
Education and training
Gendered stereotypes about work arise earlier in individuals’ careers
through gendered expectations about education and training.
PM&C acknowledged that:
Participation in the workforce in particular industries ...is
influenced early by gender stereotypes, which, in turn, influence the
educational choices that women make and determine the knowledge and skills that
women and men bring to the workplace.
WGEA noted that gender segregation is
reinforced by course choices and graduate career choices:
...graduates are overwhelmingly entering fields dominated by
their own gender—almost
90 per cent of the graduates in health care and social assistance industry are
women, while men continue to dominate construction (almost 80 per cent) and
mining (almost two-thirds).
NCOSS described how unconscious bias affecting career counselling:
...what we hear through our young women's network is that at school
there is unconscious bias through the careers counselling process. Indeed, by
not naming it upfront I think allows for the unconscious bias to continue.
NCOSS spoke further about how unconscious bias also affects the way
girls experience their first jobs:
...for a lot of young women [they] have their first job
concurrent with being at school. So they may be working at the local
supermarket or in a coffee shop. What you are seeing is you are at school and
you are not perhaps being developed and shown opportunities in the same way
around STEM. But then you also go into the workplace for your part-time job and
you are prevented...from doing any of the auditing of the financials and the
stocking out the back and you are put out the front to run the checkout. The
'checkout chick' phenomenon is a thing.
Girls do not get the job as the barista. That has a level of
skill attached to it. So the boys are the baristas and the girls are the
waitresses. All of these things we hear—and we are surprised to hear, ...I hear
these young women who are aged between 15 to their mid-20s in our group telling
us these things...That is today in Australia. But that is a reality.
Given the importance of gender stereotypes in shaping career decisions,
it is unfortunate that there is limited consideration of gender, or the
specific needs of women and girls, in career guidance materials.
In its submission, economic Security4Women (eS4W) referred to research
they conducted in 2014 that focused on career guidance and advice provided in
secondary schools. It indicated that there is evidence of gender bias in
existing career counselling resources and approaches.
NCOSS also gave evidence that:
...through our young women's network (we hear) that at school
there is unconscious bias through the careers counselling process.
Continuing influence of gender
example of the STEM sector
Gender stereotypes are more than a historical hangover. They continue to
be created and propagated and, unless addressed, will lead to a gender
The under-representation of women in the STEM sector provides a good
case study of the role of social norms and expectations in driving gender
segregation. As a well paid and growing field, it also provides a salient
example of the consequences of gender segregation for the gender pay gap.
Three quarters of the fastest growing occupational categories requiring
knowledge and skills relate to the STEM sector. However, STEM fields also have
low levels of female employment in Australia, as elsewhere, with around 30 per
cent of graduates being women, less than 30 per cent of jobs being held by
women, and a gender pay gap of around 30 per cent.
According to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report:
It represents a key emerging issue for gender parity, since
STEM careers are projected to be some of the most sought-after in the context
of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Since 1987, women have outnumbered men graduating from higher education,
comprising 60 per cent of graduates in recent years, yet less than one in 20
girls considers a career in the high-demand, highly-paid STEM fields compared
to one in five boys, despite girls and boys receiving similar results in the OECD
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) science test.
This is not just an issue for women; it constitutes a form of labour
market rigidity that constricts Australia’s economy. It is widely recognised
that engaging more women in STEM professions will enhance our capacity to
participate in a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive global economy.
As Professionals Australia (PA) noted:
A workforce characterised by diversity brings together a
range of people who think differently and approach problems in different ways—and this creates a
“diversity advantage” that generates a range of benefits including a thriving
innovation culture, a positive impact on the bottom line and incentives to
remain in the STEM workforce.
A number of submitters suggested ways in which men and women could be
encouraged to combat stereotypes and undertake non-traditional careers.
The Tasmanian Women's Council (TWC) noted that women's current
underrepresentation in certain occupations can lead to the 'false assumption
that increasing their representation would lower overall productivity':
A further effect ...is, 'you can't be what you can't see'. The
lack of visibility of women in traditionally male-dominated fields (including
as teachers in male-dominated tertiary subjects, particularly STEM) is a
significant contributing factor to ongoing gender segregation in the
Dr Karen Struthers’ research suggests that female students often know
little about male-dominated trade careers, and may not be confident to pursue
Encouragingly, it seems that more girls would pursue
male-dominated trade careers if they had more experience of them, and more
positive role models and media images of girls in male-dominated roles.
Although there is a range of information available to promote
non-traditional career choices for girls, several witnesses pointed out that
career guidance materials are fragmented
and varied in accessibility. Existing resources include:
the AHRC's Women in Male-Dominated Industries Toolkit providing
strategies to assist employers in attracting women to male-dominated industries and occupations;
WGEA's Gender Strategy Toolkit for assisting employers in
achieving gender equality within their organisations;
Girls Can Do Anything, a website developed by eS4W, contains
information on role models, career pathways to non-traditional occupations, pay
rates in male-dominated industries, and an explanation of gender-segregated
workforces and the impact that this has on the gender pay gap;
initiatives being implemented by individual businesses and
organisations such as IBM, Reserve Bank of Australia and Dulux Group to improve
Some industry-led initiatives are supported by the Australian
Government, including the Australian Women in Resources Alliance e-mentoring
program, which provides mentoring for women in the resources sector to overcome
the barriers of living and working in remote regions. It received Government funding
for a further 100 mentoring places in 2016.
Allocating responsibility for addressing the under-representation of women
in male-dominated trades is needed.
However, the future shape of the labour market should be taken into
consideration when encouraging more women into traditionally male-dominated
Encouraging women to further expand supply into male
dominated occupations which are already in relative decline is unlikely to
improve the position of women. Also, if more women enter ‘male’ trades they
will not be entering other occupations which are experiencing relative growth
such as in services and increasingly demanding better-educated women.
Men entering female-dominated
Few submissions addressed the issue of men's participation in
female-dominated industries, although the DoE pointed to the need to encourage
men to consider growth industries such as health care and social assistance,
which is projected to grow by 250,200 jobs between 2016 and 2020, and education
and training which is projected to grow by 121,700 jobs over the same period and
account for 37.6 per cent of the projected growth.
A 2014 report prepared by Health Workforce Australia predicted that
Australia’s demand for nurses will significantly exceed supply, with a
projected shortfall of approximately 85,000 nurses by 2025, or 123,000 nurses
by 2030 as a result of population health trends, an ageing nursing and
midwifery workforce, high levels of part-time employment and poor retention
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) provided the
nursing profession as an example of some of the challenges facing the 'caring
professions'. Despite the projected growth in female-dominated caring
professions, it is expected that there will be skills shortages in some of
In order to...have a sufficient health workforce that is going
to meet the needs of the community...in the coming decades, we are going to need
a much bigger workforce. A more efficient health workforce is going to be one
that is more nurse-led and less reliant on medical practitioners as the leaders
of the health workforce, but that requires shifts in professional recognition
and acknowledgement...that is going to require a greater workforce overall.
Having more men represented in nursing would assist in achieving both those
things, we believe.
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