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Holding the line

women’s conference and bluestocking week 2013

eeo in practice did julia make a difference? feminism in australian universities workplace gender equality act women rock science

ISSN 1839-6186

Volume 21 September 2013

Women’s Action Committee (WAC) The NTEU Women’s Action Committee (WAC) develops the Union’s work concerning women and their professional and employment rights. The WAC meets twice a year. Its role includes: • Act as a representative of women members at the National level. • To identify, develop and respond to matters affecting women. • To advise on recruitment policy and resources directed at women. • To advise on strategies and structures to encourage, support and facilitate the active participation of women members at all levels of the NTEU.

WAC Delegates 2013-2014 Aca Academic staff representative G/P General/Professional staff representative

National President Jeannie Rea,

National vice-President (general staff) Gabe Gooding,

Indigenous Representative

• To recommend action and advise on issues affecting women. • To inform members on industrial issues and policies that impact on women. • To make recommendations and provide advice to the National Executive, National Council, Division Executives and Division Councils on industrial, social and political issues affecting women. • Monitor and review the effectiveness of issues, policies and structures affecting women. WAC is composed of one Academic and one General/Professional Staff representative from each Division, plus one nominee of the Indigenous Policy Committee.

Sharon Dennis,

act Aca Sara Beavis, G/P Katie Wilson,

NEW SOUTH WALES Aca Cathy Rytmeister, G/P Karen Ford,

NORTHERN TERRITORY Aca Sue Stanton, G/P Janet Sincock,

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Aca Debra Hackett, G/P Shelley Pezy,

Aca Donna Weeks, G/P Carolyn Cope,



Agenda (formerly Frontline)


Aca vacant G/P vacant

VICTORIA Aca Virginia Mansel Lees, G/P Alyson Waterson,

WESTERN AUSTRALIA Aca Silvia Lozeva, G/P Kate Makowiecka,

Editor: Jeannie Rea

ISSN 1839-6186 (print), ISSN 1839-6194 (online)

Production: Paul Clifton

Original design: Maryann Long

Editorial Assistance: Anastasia Kotaidis All text and images © NTEU 2013 unless otherwise noted. Published annually by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia Phone: 03 9254 1910

ABN 38 579 396 344


Fax: 03 9254 1915

In accordance with NTEU policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, Agenda has been printed using vegetable based inks with alcohol free printing initiatives on FSC certified paper by Printgraphics under ISO 14001 Environmental Certification.

Environment ISO 14001


Cover: Julie-Anne Foster (USC) with the 2013 Bluestocking Week poster, part of the Women Vote Smart video shot at Women’s Conference.


Photo by Terri MacDonald.

Volume 21, September 2013 editorial




NTEU National President Jeannie Rea.


Dr Kaye Broadbent and Professor Glenda Strachan’s research investigates the difference in positions men and women occupy in universities.







A round up of the myriad of Bluestocking Week events at NTEU branches across the country.

The ins and outs of the new Workplace Gender Equality Act.

THE ALARMING STATE OF WOMEN’S SAFETY ON CAMPUS 28 The NUS Talk About It survey revealed some harrowing figures of women’s life on campus.


MY CAREER CAROLE FERRIER: FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT FOR FORTY YEARS 30 Carmel Shute interviews Carole Ferrier, Professor of Literature and Women’s Studies at UQ.



A workshop to help address an issue that has become endemic in higher education.

Helena Spyrou interviews Professor Carol Johnson, an expert in Australian politics.


NTEU National President Jeannie Rea argues that the chilly climate in universities encourages ambivalence in aspiring to and supporting women in leadership roles.


Andrea Brown gives a practitioner’s perspective of EEO in higher education.

DID JULIA GILLARD MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR WOMEN & GIRLS? 12 Katie Wilson reports on the posing of this question at NTEU 2013 Women’s Conference. It has a reputation for women leaders, but this is not ‘evidence’ that New Zealand has solved gender discrimination, says Suzanne McNabb.


Lyrics from the singing workshop.

Women’s Conference delegates tell us about their lives away from the campus.









USYD Casuals Network members Claire Parfitt and Sharni Chan delivered a workshop on how to organise in imaginative ways.

bluestocking week



A wrap-up of two busy days in June at our biennial Women’s Conference.





Katie, Wendy and Beth describe their first NTEU Women’s Conference experiences.

feminism, indigenous & equality FEMINISM IN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES


Gender studies courses are not faring well in Australian universities.



Creating universities more inclusive of Indigenous women.



‘Brogrammers’ think women and computers don’t mix, but was it always this way?



Hedy Lamarr invented wifi, and other true stories of how women have always rocked science.



Review of Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings by Eger and Peltz.


standing with uppity women

jeannie rea

The choice of women and leadership as the theme for the NTEU’s biennial national women’s conference this year was not at all surprising considering that the conference was organised as we witnessed the political destruction of Australia’s first woman prime minister. However we judged her political performance we could not ignore that her gender was the canvas for unremitting attack. Turning to higher education, it seemed that women were also copping it for getting too uppity. The Gillard Government’s $2.3 billion cuts to universities and students to help fund the school reform package stunned not only university students and staff, but the broader community. Universities immediately responded by accepting the cuts and announced plans to axe jobs and courses. In an environment of increasing class sizes and decreasing access to staff, it seemed that the new generation of students were not considered deserving of the high quality university experience of their forebears. Women staff and students could not ignore that this was happening as more women than men were studying and working in universities. The so called efficiency dividend would cut into the support for students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, Indigenous students and those with disabilities. The abolition of the Student Start-up Scholarships would make it harder for those already struggling to stay at university. The Labor Government had promised to repair the damage of the previous Coalition government and also open up university to previously underrepresented sections of the community. But they allocated funding and then kept cutting it back - $4 billion since 2011. As the Coalition again takes government our universities are open to many more students, but already starved of funds. In an even more conservative climate there is much reason for concern by women in universities. The continual course cutbacks are falling disproportionately on disciplinary areas where women predominate as staff and students. Not only are courses favoured by and focused upon women cut, as Sharon Bickle discusses in her article on Gender Studies, but also funding is cut back in feminised areas. Education and health sciences, even while graduates are in demand,



are continually made to do more with less. The message is clear; women must make do with less. While women general staff have done well in recent years in breaking through into more senior positions, the reality is that many women are still in jobs with few prospects – although hopefully successful enterprise bargaining outcomes will enable some career advancement. Academic women, like many of their male colleagues, suffer the continual stress of meeting unrealistic workload expectations and research outputs, under the threat of losing their jobs. Others cannot even get into secure positions and out of casualised teaching. Again, hopefully the scholarly teaching positions in the new enterprise agreements will assist in creating new secure jobs, but we will also have to keep a careful watch that these teaching focussed roles don’t become feminised, while men continue into the research jobs. As long as research is privileged over teaching, this is a concern. While women are distinguishing themselves in research, the prestigious research grants and positions are still very much a male dominated terrain. Women in academic research have be brave and persistent as Carol Johnson and Carole Ferrier’s career stories featured in this edition teach us. And we applaud Kerrie Doyle, the first Indigenous Australian woman to graduate from Oxford University. Our universities remain tough places for Indigenous women and men as staff and students as Celeste Liddle writes. Making campuses culturally safe is critical and it is Indigenous women that have been taking on more than their share of responsibility for this. Non-Indigenous women must listen, learn and stand with them.

And even while there are more women students on campus, shamefully campuses are not safe for women. Lorelei Links’ article will probably shock many readers, who may have assumed that decent behaviour by men towards women was pretty much the norm and expectation at universities. The levels of violence perpetrated by some male students on some campuses towards women – and the silence – cannot be tolerated. The NTEU will work with NUS and the universities on campus safety and respect for women. The success of our second Bluestocking Week has cemented the second week of August as an annual event. All sorts of activities were held across many campuses, despite the potential to be crowded out by the federal election campaign and enterprise bargaining negotiations and industrial campaigns at many universities. Again Bluestocking Week provided both an opportunity to come together and reflect upon achievements and to rally our energies for ongoing campaigns. This year’s theme was ‘holding the line’. We were responding to NUS’s slogan ‘our blue stockings are on the line’. Well, they certainly are now – so we will have to hold that line tight. Jeannie Rea is NTEU National President and editor of Agenda.


gender pay gap competition winning guess a woeful $8500 During Bluestocking Week, the NTEU ran a competition asking members to guess the gender pay equity gap by annual salary for general staff at their university. Dr Natalie Edwards won the competition with the closest guess, $8,500: the actual gap at the University of Adelaide is $8,364. While pleased to have won a book voucher for her guess, Dr Edwards said she was disappointed about the magnitude of the gap. So are we! The NTEU investigated the average gender pay gap for universities and found there is still an averaged gap for general staff of 8.7% despite all the industrial and policy based gender equity measures. This is calculated by examining the difference between the average annual salaries of women and men at full time rates (see article at right for the methodology). The University of Notre Dame has the widest gender pay gap, but of the larger universities, Victoria and La Trobe have the widest gaps. This is inexcusable. Universities should be exemplars of equitable practice. The number of women in senior general staff positions has doubled over the last 15 years, but only 26% of women are at HEW 8 and above, compared to 41% of men. This is still a significant achievement, due to the efforts of the women themselves, but also because of enforceable bargaining clauses, gender equity programs, policies and structural changes that work against systemic and cultural discrimination. Our current key enterprise bargaining claims on general staff careers, and for academic staff on workloads and the new scholarly teaching fellow positions, are tangible strategies that can contribute to addressing women’s gendered employment inequity. In November 2012, the gender pay gap in Australia stood at 17.6%. The average weekly ordinary time earnings for women working fulltime was $261.60 per week less than men. In the last 18 years the pay gap has increased not decreased. Equal Pay Day was held on 3 September this year, the 65th day of the financial year, indicating the day women catch up to men’s earnings of the previous year.

determining the gap The NTEU does not have access to the full salary data for all universities. Therefore, the figures for our gender pay gap competition were estimates based on the best available data. The gender pay gap has been calculated by using the current rates of pay for each classification in the relevant Agreement (generally the 2nd highest incremental step), and determining a weighted average based upon the distribution of male and female employees in the classification structure, as reported for 2012 in the Government’s higher education staff statistics collections. In respect of staff at level 10 and those described as ‘Senior Executive’, the calculations include an average ‘loading’ of 5% and 25% respectively above the Agreement rate for Level 10, to attempt to reflect the reality of actual rates of pay at these levels. The calculations do not include casual staff, as there is no reliable data. It is highly probable that the gender pay gap is higher than our estimate, because market and other loadings above Agreement rates tend to be distributed disproportionately to men, and our calculations assume that all staff at Levels 1-9 are on the Agreement rate and do not receive such loadings. 20%

this is the GENDER PAY GAP for general staff at your university









Extra paid leave breakthroughs on Domestic Violence clauses

more women than men in insecure jobs More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability, according to the latest Gender Indicators report of the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released on 27 August. Twenty two per cent of female employees and 17 per cent of male employees were in casual work without the stability of leave entitlements in November 2012. This situation remains largely unchanged since November 2008. This difference between men and women was apparent across all age groups up to 64 years of age.

In July 2013, the NTEU and Swinburne University agreed The Gender Indicators report is updated every six months and brings together a variety of ABS and non-ABS data to look at the differences between men and on a breakthrough clause to support employees affected women, and how these differences are changing over time. by domestic violence by including five days leave specifically to deal with domestic/family violence matters in the Sixty five per cent of women are in the paid workforce compared to 79 per forthcoming enterprise agreement. This was a very significent of men. Only 13.6 per cent of men work part-time compared to 43.3 cant improvement upon clauses achieved at other university per cent, many doing so to accommodate carer responsibilities. sites to that date – and a first in Australia. It provided impetus Women care for children for eight and half hours a day while men only to other NTEU Branches currently prosecuting bargaining and spend three. Women are also twice as likely to be providing primary has been welcomed by other unions and the ACTU as it will care to a person with a disability. Over 42 per cent of women reported bolster campaigns and negotiations in other industries. always or often feeling rushed or pressed for time, compared to 35 per Since then two other Victorian universities are currently favourably cent of men – which is also a very significant proportion. considering unlimited leave. The University of Sydney has agreed to Only 3.5 per cent of CEOs in the top 200ASX companies are 20 days leave. women. Women were only 29 per cent of federal parliamentarWhen the WAC proposed to the 2012 National Bargaining Conferians and 30.9 per cent of judges and magistrates. Women ence that there be a mandatory claim on domestic violence but not a though are faring better on Commonwealth boards at 38.4 mandatory settlement point, it was specifically to try and achieve this type per cent and are now 39.2 per cent of APS senior and of outcome. With the NTEU’s past record of pushing through paid parental middle managers. leave provisions in collective agreements, there is an expectation from within And for all this effort women still get less than a third of the union, and from other unions, that the NTEU would take on a leadership role the Order of Australia Awards, but live longer. in negotiating breakthroughs on matters that were originally considered outside of industrial agreements. The WAC’s strategy was to encourage branches that Source: Gender Indicators (cat. no. 4125.0), available at were interested and believed there was/is an interest by the university in pursuing these matters to negotiate hard for leading outcomes, rather than having a lower level and more achievable sector wide mandatory settlement point. The campaign has gained momentum and achieved attention at the United Nations. Over one million Australian workers are now covered by agreements with provisions to assist people dealing with domestic violence. The first negotiated NTEU provision around domestic violence was at UNSW in the previous bargaining round. UNSW insisted that the provisions operate in policy and so they were not part of the Agreement. At CQU in late 2012 the NTEU achieved provisions to support employees, but was unable to gain additional paid leave. However, staff will be able to access current leave and additional leave without pay, make flexible working arrangements and have assistance to change their working arrangements. Hopefully, most agreements will achieve at least these provisions. But NTEU Branches should be aiming for dedicated additional paid leave. To assist, NTEU has produced printed material and a PowerPoint slide show for Branches to use for internal education and with their management teams. The support of the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse (ADFVC) has been critical to prosecuting this campaign throughout Australia and members have worked closely with NTEU negotiators. The NTEU is very disappointed that funding for the Domestic Violence and the Workplace project has not been renewed, and will work with other unions to look for ways to keep at least part of this work going. Jeannie Rea, National President



vote smart vid At the 2013 Women’s Conference, members took part in the making a fabulous video for our Vote Smart campaign. View it online at or


Bluestocking Week Holding the Line

In a tumultuous period for gender politics in Australia and when public resistance to sexism in public life is clearly needed, ‘Holding the Line’ seemed an apt theme for NTEU’s Bluestocking Week 12-16 August 2013. Holding the Line also complemented the National Union of Students (NUS) theme for their April Bluestocking Week – ‘Our blue stockings are on the line’. It also allowed for some excellent imagery in our poster artwork. And that was taken even further in the national launch event on Monday 12 August when National Office staff and others, in blue stockings literally held the line in University Arcade (next to Victoria University), draping a clothes line of cardboard cut-outs of stockings and clothes (reproduced from the poster) across the laneway drawing many interested queries from staff and students, tourists, city workers and shoppers who were all taking photos.

General staff and pay equity This year the focus was on general staff women and exposing the gender pay gap in general staff salaries in universities. NTEU’s research found that the averaged equal pay gap in universities at 8.7% was much less than the 17% across the Australian workforce. This attests to the success of industrial and political campaigns in the sector, but any gap is inexcusable. See p.3 for the winner of the Bluestocking Week ‘Guess the gender pay gap at your university’ competition. The Deakin NTEU Branch responded by holding a Bluestocking Week ‘Lunch and Learn’ for general staff entitled, ‘Getting Reclassified, Writing your PD’ at the Burwood Campus. They plan training on other campuses later this year.

Women’s Walk on Country Western Australia’s Murdoch University Branch initiative of the ‘Women’s Walk on Country’ with Nyungar elder Aunty Marie Taylor was a highlight of this year’s Bluestocking Week. Aunty Marie took a group of women around showing them the significance of her land on which the university now sits. Scheduled for one hour, apparently the event went closer to three.

More Bluestocking Week round up In Brisbane, the focus was on domestic and family violence (DFV). Division Secretary Margaret Lee spoke at the QUT event where members raised hundreds of dollars at a cake stall and whip around to assist a DFV shelter. Zoe Rathus, from the Law School spoke at Griffith University and members collected and donated a lot of new items for the Murri Sisters Shelter. USQ Branch also talked about the NTEU enterprise bargaining claim in support of staff dealing with domestic violence at their morning tea event. This focus has energised the enterprise bargaining campaign at these sites particularly in prosecuting the domestic violence claim, which has been vigorously opposed by university managements, unlike in some other universities interstate. At James Cook University in northern Queensland, the Branch held a videoconference between Cairns and Townsville campuses, featuring 5 minute speaker spots that showcased women’s activism on both campuses and further afield. ParticiVOLUME 21 SEPTEMBER 2013



BSW ROUND UP CONTINUED pants heard a report back from the NTEU Women’s Conference; learned of the work of a group highlighting objectification of women in Townsville; progress in organising the Reclaim the Night March in Townsville; the implications of motherhood for PhD students; an Indigenous women’s leadership program in the Far North; and about the JCU Women’s Studies Research Group in its transition from the Women’s Studies Centre. Speakers included undergraduate and graduate students as well as staff. At CQU, the Branch was supported by the University as DVC Hilary Winchester co-hosted an event where Professor Brenda Happell, Director of the Institute for Health and Social Science Research and the Centre for Mental Health Nursing Innovation, spoke on ‘Women in Leadership - Remember the fruit but forget the family’. CQU support for Bluestocking Week was at odds with HR at the University of South Australia, who cancelled the NTEU’s room bookings for Bluestocking Week morning teas. However, this has now been sorted out and will not happen again. Morning teas did go ahead at many places including ECU and Notre Dame in Perth. In Darwin, retiring Labor Senator Trish Crossin was the guest speaker for the morning tea organised by the CDU Branch. At Newcastle University, outgoing Labor MP for Newcastle, Sharon Grierson spoke on ‘Women in Politics: Reflections on a Political Career’. The ANU Branch held a lunch addressed by Emeritus Professor Meredith Edwards, who had recently concluded research on gender equality in the APS. She spoke about the public service’s culture blocking women’s advancement, and reflected on how this might be relevant to women in universities.

‘Walk on Country’ at Murdoch with respected Nyungar Elder Aunty Marie Taylor.

At Macquarie University, the forum’s theme was ‘Don’t be too polite, girls! Women in higher education, public life and politics’. The speakers were Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, NTEU National Indigenous Organiser Celeste Liddle, Sociology lecturer Dr Justine Lloyd and student Monika Vukotic. At the University of Sydney, Professor Marion Baird was the guest speaker. The WA Division evening forum ‘Holding the line: Women leading in the public eye’ held at the WACA was chaired by the NTEU National President with Greens Senator Rachel Siewart, Unions WA Secretary Meredith Hammat, senior lecturer in politics and international studies at Murdoch University and Chair of Oxfam Australia’s Board of Directors Dr Jane Hutchison and from the School of Indigenous Studies UWA and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society Professor Pat Dudgeon. UTS held a forum where Jenna Price and Sarah Attfield shared their stories on issues

Prof. Pat Dudgeon, Senator Rachel Siewart, Meredith Hammat (WA Unions), Jeannie Rea, Gabe Gooding & Dr Jane Hutchison at the Perth Bluestocking forum.



facing woman in tertiary education and how the NTEU is pursuing these through current enterprise bargaining negotiations. In Adelaide, the film An Education was screened and participants had the opportunity to use this as platform for discussing contemporary issues in higher education for women. UWA screened the oldie, but still so relevant For Love or Money: a History of Women and Work in Australia, narrated by Noni Hazlehurst. In the ACT, women were invited to a wine and cheese get together at the Australian Catholic University campus. On Thursday market day at ANU women organised a Bluestocking Week stall and University of Canberra women organised a pizza lunch. The University of Wollongong held a Bluestocking Week display in the library highlighting a range of published works from past and current female academics. Murdoch University also organised Bluestocking Week library displays on two sites.

Bluestocking Morning Tea at the ECU Bunbury campus.


JCU members in Cairns celebrate Bluestocking Week. Virginia Mansel Lees and Jeannie Rea holding the line at the Victorian event.

Curtin University organised a week of art displays celebrating women’s participation in higher education. Murdoch Branch also organised a Bush Court Bluestocking Week Festival which featured music, blue stockings and even blue fairy floss.

Week. Back in April male students from Monash denounced the student association’s Bluestocking Week event featuring cupcakes for sale at $1 for men and 80 cents for women as sexist. The point was to illustrate the gender wage gap.

The Victorian Division held a party at the Division Office with National President Jeannie Rea challenging participants to hold the line in these difficult times as attacks on women’s rights to equality are being challenged in all sorts of ways even including backlash to Bluestocking

Bluestocking Week is now established as an annual event every August. Start planning for next year. See for a full list of this year’s activities and other information on the history of bluestockings.

Bluestocking forum at Macquarie University.

Margaret Lee and Carolyn Cope at QUT.

Bluestocking Week Morning Tea at CDU in Darwin.




Still a chilly climate for women leaders in universities jeannie rea

A generation ago, universities were described as having a chilly climate for women keen for recognition and advancement. Break through the glass ceiling into senior management and you will find a frosty reception, women were warned. Further commentary described women trapped in the dank basement of administrative jobs with no career prospects and academic jobs with no job security or promotion. Since then, women’s prospects have improved significantly thanks to the combination of persistent women and industrial and political campaigns. Women can push on through to the top and become vice-chancellors. There was a moment when around a third of universities had women VCs, but that did not last and still the Group of 8 resist appointing a woman. Di Yerbury was Australia’s first woman university Vice-Chancellor, serving at Macquarie University from 1987 – 2005. Over this period, the first generation of feminists who had agitated for women’s rights in higher education claimed top jobs across the country. For a while it looked like women were marking out the territory of higher education governance and management, but as that first generation of fighters retired, the men seem to be settling back in. Yet there are many more women in leadership positions right through universities amongst academic and general staff, with general staff senior women increasing rapidly. For academic women barriers remain to breaking through into the professoriate and onto senior academic leadership. However, this progress is highly tempered by the tenacity of traditional gender segregation by discipline and occupation. I think that the pervasiveness of this segregation has impacts beyond the obvious and contributes to how firmly we remain stuck in traditional gendered roles and constructs. It not only makes it difficult to break down the barriers to women’s career advancement, but to the expectations of women



in leadership roles – by both women and men. We see only through the gendered lens. Women in leadership roles, at every level, are judged more harshly than their male counterparts. Julia Gillard was spot on when she said in her valedictory speech, ‘… the reaction to being the first female Prime Minister does not explain everything about my prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime ministership.’ There remains a high degree of ambivalence about women in leadership including amongst feminists. In many ways we were still grappling with the legacy of the women’s liberation movement, which is to be highly suspicious of traditional conceptions of ‘leadership’ and of those aspiring to leadership.

was much truer to this notion than the contemporary appointed Heads. But it is not only political feminists who have an uncomfortable relationship with ‘leadership’. Even where it is well acknowledged that women do need to get into the master’s house and do some dismantling from within, many women would rather not. And many women remain ambivalent about supporting other women having a go – even though they would grudgingly agree that women in power can make positive change for women.

Caribbean American feminist, poet and activist Audre Lorde was very persuasive when she pronounced, ‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’.

However, support structures for women in power are critical to success in this mission. At the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference retiring Senator Trish Crossin emphasised that Julia Gillard’s capacity to make a positive difference for women and girls was only possible because she was surrounded by enough feminists to work together to push through on the issues that the men just did not understand mattered so much to women.1

The commitment to developing non-hierarchical and egalitarian structures epitomised in the ‘collective’ has been fundamental to more radical feminists. In today’s more conservative times, these ideas are picked up in the workplace in the shared and inclusive approaches to leadership within ‘teams’. Ironically the old university Head of Department structure where the role was circulated amongst colleagues (albeit traditionally full time, white and male!) for short stretches

The master’s house is still pretty much intact in the Australian parliament and in our universities and across Australian society. Women even when in charge can still be seen as temporary interlopers. We are still stuck with traditional assumptions that leaders require particular characteristics. These include being single-minded, decisive, convincing, commanding of allegiance, tough and sometimes visionary, with an ego to match.


Not coincidentally, these are characteristics viewed positively when associated with men and often negatively when applied to women. To put it bluntly, leadership is a masculine construct – and reality. Women in Leadership courses, with all their positive intentions perpetuate this by teaching women how to overcome their feminine and womanly deficits and get better at the masculine characteristics and behaviours. So women get the message that we do not fit the mould and many do not want to or want other women to. In his retiring address to staff as ViceChancellor of ANU, Professor Don Aitken asserted that women in higher education were more concerned with good outcomes and harmony than with the male focus on winning, adding, ‘I do not think that making it easier for women to be more like men will assist the process of converting male singlemindedness into socially useful outcomes… Rather I think we need to work on ways to emphasise and accredit the instinctive values that women hold.’ He called for a transformation of the heavily male value system of the modern university. The subsequent decade has seen only little change. In many ways the value system has become more conservative and along with that the judging of successful leadership. It is still gendered male.

Getting women into leadership was always going to be a limited strategy. But getting into leadership and doing it differently does matter. Leadership should not be about holding a position, but what one does with it. In a recent article in Labour History, Professor Raelene Frances defines leadership as, ‘the ability to change the way that people think about what is possible and the capacity to work with others to achieve at least some measure of change.’ She argues that, ‘Of the contemporary approaches to the study of leadership, the one I find most helpful in this context is the relatively new concept of ‘authentic leadership.’ Authentic leaders lead from conviction and act on the basis of their values, Frances explains drawing upon the work of Shamir and Eilam. Authentic leaders have to exhibit self-knowledge and have a strong identification with their own leadership role. This reflexive self-awareness and awareness of others sits well with feminist thinking and more women may be more comfortable with this approach to leadership. However, does it gain them respect and recognition with those holding more traditional views of leadership in a conservative environment? Regardless I am confident that there will be more women leaders in universities who

refuse to just transact, but will continue trying to make real transformative change. Transactional models of leadership sanction and reward followers, follow the established path and are rewarded with more of the same. Transformative leaders seek to inspire themselves and others to do difficult and challenging things that could make real positive change – and support one another in doing so. 1. Indicative of Trish Crossin’s point is that with the departure of Julia Gillard, her proposal to use Australia’s month in the chair of the UN Security Council to champion the excessive burden on women in war zones has been dropped completely. Senator Carr had backed Gillard in promoting this as a key priority for Australia on the council. It followed Gillard’s $320 million initiative to raise the status of women in the Pacific. Instead the focus will be on the prevalence of guns in fragile states. I hope there will be at least some attention to the connections to violence against women. (Source The Age, 1/9/13)

References Julia Gillard (2013). Valedictory speech as Prime Minister, 26 June. Don Aitken is quoted in Kate While (2003). ‘Women and leadership in higher education in Australia’, Tertiary Education and Management 9. Raelene Frances (2013). ‘Authentic Leaders: Women and leadership in Australian unions before WWII’, Labour History, no 104. Boas Shamir & Galit Eilam (2005), quoted in Frances.



leadership SECTION

Gender Equity in Universities: A Practitioner’s Perspective

andrea brown

Despite genuine effort, and some best practice Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) initiatives and programs and sustained leadership and commitment, building more gender equitable workplaces remains an on-going challenge for the sector. It would appear that workplace culture, employment practices, management and leadership attitudes remain at odds with the action required to achieve real change. One of many underlying explanations from my experience is a lack of a pervasive recognition of gender equity as a legitimate concern that requires attention and action in our universities. This is not to suggest that gender equity championing is not taken up by some individuals in leadership positions within our universities. Why doesn’t EEO work? Inadequate resourcing, little commitment from the top, insufficient measuring, monitoring and accountability, not viewed as core business or often not a part of a university’s strategic mission and plan. Obviously, this implies EEO works best when it is appropriately resourced, supported by demonstrable commitment from the top, relevant and effective accountability measures are developed and implemented and it is incorporated into the university’s strategic plan. Perhaps the question should really be what are the necessary preconditions for EEO to have a positive impact on workplace culture, employment practices and management and leadership attitudes?

gender and general staff Over the years, as an EEO practitioner, I have developed an increasing interest in gender equity for general staff. While the problems we identify for general staff



women are by and large similar to those for academic women, such as a lack of seniority and positional leadership, lower advancement rates and little progress to improve the situation for women staff, general staff women comprise up to 70% of that workforce. Whereas, academic women generally comprise around 45% of the academic workforce. While the general staff workforce is female dominated, it is also vastly segregated by gender. The boys primarily reside in IT, finance, facilities, planning, strategy… while the girls tend to be drawn to and remain in the library, student, faculty and school administration, HR, executive support and secretariat services. Male general staff tend to occupy higher HEW classifications in those organisational units and on commencement tend to be appointed at a comparatively higher level. Experiences of workplace culture can be widely divergent and the presence of subcultures partly explains this phenomena.

Nonetheless, a gendered culture is alive and well in our general staff workforce, particularly at the management and leadership levels. An additional major barrier for general staff women, of a more structural nature, is the HEW classification system itself which provides few career path opportunities and significantly under values the type of work women are more likely to do. I have repeatedly observed, both in reality and within institutional data sets, the extent to which male general staff outstrip their female colleagues in terms of advancement, such as reclassification to a higher level, direct appointment or recruitment to a higher level, secondment and higher duties opportunities.

academic career success For some years, I and many others have identified a number of important variables that contribute positively to the career suc-


cess of academic women. In particular, practices such as mentoring and sponsorship, but also career advice, membership of a discipline and research group, supervision of post-graduate research students, support for promotion and study leave, and of course, the ability to work long hours and maintain a manageable workload. The perennial problem of work/life balance, particularly as it relates to family and caring responsibilities, impacts both academic and general staff women - in different ways I would suggest. Where general staff women may have a somewhat better opportunity to use a mix of flexible work arrangements to manage work/life balance, especially when caring responsibilities are high, the success of that approach diminishes rapidly as one aspires to senior HEW levels and positions of management. Career progression for some academic women is simply put on hold when fulfilling the demands of caring. Research output, together with securing grants, is very difficult to achieve when one cannot prioritise work above all else. They significantly determine career progression for many academics.

improving gender equality So what are some of the things that EEO can do to improve gender equality in our universities? Based partly on the notion of leadership as a gendered construct, most universities develop and implement Women in Leadership programs. It is now well accepted that men and women, with masculine and feminine traits, are valued quite differently in leadership roles. And just in case anyone was thinking leadership is not a gendered construct, I invite you to reflect on the recent leadership battle in the Labor Party and the pervasive treatment of our first female Prime Minister. While such leadership programs obviously aim to develop women, it is critical for them to also aim for cultural change. They should aim to operate more like a strategic intervention, that incrementally, works towards

cultural change. Women in Leadership programs should deconstruct leadership, they should critically examine gender, power and politics in the workplace and they should offer a different paradigm. To move beyond a ‘let’s fix the women’ approach and have some influence on culture, they must go beyond the individual participants to touch others. Mentoring for change, perhaps combined with skill development regarding unconscious bias for mentors, is an important second ingredient. The mentors require new skills in relation to developmental mentoring, rather than more conventional, top down mentoring that reinforces the same way of doing things. The mentors should learn from and with the women participants and have just as much responsibility to reflect on and affect cultural change. Education and more education is key to understanding and acknowledging how stereotypes and unconscious bias influence our behaviour and decision making practices at work. They effectively contribute to perpetuating the status quo. Athene Donald, Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge recently wrote that ‘unconscious bias is still prevalent, even if overt discrimination is rare’. She was quoting a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that showed for identical CVs submitted under a male or female name, the women were rated as significantly less competent and hireable than men. This was irrespective of the sex of the evaluator and there were also notable differences in the commencing salary recommended. However, our sector will not undertake that education without the necessary precondition of genuine acknowledgement that gender equity is an intrinsically valid problem that requires examination and action. Even the National President of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) recently called for real action at the 2011 Gender Equity in the Workplace

Summit. Peter Wilson wrote that ’Australia is ranked number one for female educational participation by the 2010 World Economic Forum Report, yet we find ourselves ranked 44th on female workforce participation in the same publication.’ While this particular fact should resonate well in our sector, Peter Wilson went on to say ’On gender equity at work, Australia is effectively world’s worst practice among modern, mature and developed countries.’ We all know that building gender equity in any organisation and profession is difficult, complex and long-term. I would like to conclude with a quote from Helen Carmody, Principal Consultant, The Nous Group. It resonates, not least of which is attributable to the candid style, but because it may, yet again pave the way for discussion/debate on that hoary old chestnut, quotas. Heather Carmody concludes in her chapter, ‘The Gloves Are Off in The Diversity War’, in the recently released Sideways to the Top, that: ‘CEO’s need to hear the following message: if you can’t attract, develop and promote women, you know you’re losing ground in the labour market and workplace culture. If a bunch of lookalike blokes is the best you can do and best you want to do, you can be certain you will have a problem. Those blokes are a shrinking pool. The growth is with nonlookalike blokes … and women.’ Andrea Brown is an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at Victoria University. She spoke on the ‘Women and Leadership in Higher Education’ panel at the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference.

References Donald, A. (2012) ‘Throw Off the Cloak of Invisibility’, Nature, Vol 490, 447. ‘Equality means Business’, Communiqué of the Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit 2011, Australian Human Resource Institute. ‘Is feminism still relevant?’ Norah Breekveldt, w1/i1003298/




Did Julia gillard make a difference for women & girls?

katie wilson

For me and my daughter, Zoë, the answer to this question is clear. Living in Canberra, we have often visited Parliament House hoping for a glimpse of Julia Gillard. The first female Prime Minister of this country was, and is, a big deal for Zoë. It was important for her (and me) to see that women can be leaders and can do anything to which they put their minds. Julia has definitely made a difference to my girl. At the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference, three excellent speakers gave their views on this question on a panel, chaired with grace

and humour by Louise Connor, Victorian State Secretary, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Trish Crossin, LABOR SENATOR, NT At the time of the Conference in July this year, Trish Crossin (pictured left) had recently ‘retired’ from the Senate, following Julia Gillard’s ‘captain’s pick’ of Nova Peris to replace Trish as the Labor candidate. Trish said there had been times when she admired Julia Gillard and other times when she had been bemused by her behaviour. She thought history would judge Gillard unkindly and that many women had been let down by her actions, but said it is important to look at the context. Trish believed the main issue was that many people believed that the way Julia became prime minister was not legitimate. She also had to deal with a hung parliament and the



misdemeanours of certain politicians upon whom she relied to pass legislation. The hung parliament was very complex and eventually the attitude became ‘whatever it takes’. This helped Tony Abbott establish his scare campaign, and Trish felt that Gillard did not manage to rise above Abbott’s attacks. The hung parliament worked more effectively than expected, as Julia was a fantastic negotiator and policy writer, but this would not have been possible without the team she had around her, including a number of very capable women. Fortunately some things went forward, but some things went backwards. The bottom line is politics is power, and it makes people do odd things. Trish thinks that the Labor Party has a long way to go. Trish concluded that Gillard had indeed made a difference, although she thought that history would judge her harshly.

leadership Zoë doesn’t want to be a politician My daughter recently told me she doesn’t want to be a politician because she doesn’t want to kiss babies’ heads. The fact that she had thought about politics at 8, shows that Julia has made a difference. I think that for women and girls, Julia has made a difference – even if it is that they know they don’t want to be politicians. At least they are aware of the process, know who is involved, and they can always change their minds when they get older. They may not become politicians, but they have an awareness of the issues and how the media portray politicians, and leadership in general.

Karen Batt, CPSU (SPSF)

Suzanne McNabb, TEU (NZ)

CPSU (SPSF) Federal Secretary, Karen Batt (pictured above) started by saying that these were extraordinary times and spoke about Julia Gillard in the context of her own family – her mother, 78, her niece Ruby, 4, and herself.

Suzanne McNabb (pictured above) spoke about Helen Clarke, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years, including leading her party to four consecutive election victories. Helen Clarke is seen as a role model for NZ women. She created an expectation that women could and should be leaders and has opened up many possibilities for girls and women. It was about forging new norms. But, Suzanne said that NZ could not afford to be complacent. Helen Clarke recently stated that structural constraints, poverty, violence towards women and lack of representation in public life do impact on whether women and girls chose to be leaders.

Karen’s mum had expressed anger at the constant attacks on Julia Gillard and lamented the fact that the country could not cope with a leader looking different. The constant criticism that came from commentators such as Andrew Bolt and on one occasion even Germaine Greer, were damaging and had wide circulation. Perhaps the only reason that she was virulently attacked was because she was a woman. Karen asked what relevance the comments had and said that they just demeaned the office of the Prime Minister and took attention away from policy making? Karen’s mum was angry that Gillard’s policies were not analysed, that people instead focused on her as a person, with the implication that women in power can’t ‘do it’, although over 180 bills were passed. Karen and her mum are concerned that the country has gone backwards. Ruby, Karen’s four-year-old niece, had heard that women can’t be bosses. Ruby was quickly told that she could do anything and not to listen to boys who told her that! Unfortunately, the competency of all women has been questioned. This was one of the subtle negative effects of Gillard’s prime ministership. Girls may want to be leaders, but when they hear and see how Julia was treated, they may be put off. This is the challenge we face. Women and girls do make a difference, we want to contribute to our society and it is not okay to be judged because of our gender.

Overall, the panel agreed that Julia Gillard has made a difference for women and girls. What those differences are depends on your point of view and life experiences. Katie Wilson is Courses Officer at the University of Canberra, and ACT General Staff WAC representative. Photos: Terri MacDonald, Paul Clifton

Suzanne could see many similarities between Julia Gillard and Helen Clarke. When her Government’s policies were unpopular, instead of discussing the policy itself, critics attacked Clarke personally for her life decisions, such as not having children. The same thing happened to Julia Gillard; and for both of them, the negative comments got worse as they neared the end of their terms of office. Helen Clarke, and Julia Gillard both make a difference in politics and leadership. Helen Clarke continues to make a difference in the world in her current role of Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (the third-highest UN position). In the discussion that followed, Suzanne made the point we have to challenge everything, we need to be aware of what is happening around us. We have the tendency to leave the woman at the top alone – we need to gather around her, speak up on her behalf, and not be afraid.



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new zealand’s gender equity myth

suzanne mcnabb

At the moment in New Zealand we are washing the glasses after celebrating an historic win for women workers. A caregiver from the town of Upper Hutt, Kristine Bartlett, took on the rest home where she is employed, alleging she is underpaid because she is in a female-dominated industry. And she won. Bartlett and her union SFWU went to the Employment Court and argued, using a piece of legislation that had laid dormant for over forty years, that if it was mostly men doing the job she and her colleagues were doing, then the pay would be very different. The workers at Kristine Bartlett’s rest home are paid $14.32 an hour. In the state sector, residential care workers doing similar work can earn $19.50 an hour. It is a great victory for Kristine, for the many women in her union that traditionally do some of the most important yet lowest paid work, and for all other working women in NZ. The decision has implications for many jobs that are dominated by women employees, especially low-paid ones. It is the type of gender equity victory we like to think we have a reputation for in NZ. But the truth is the victory was only possible because of the appalling economic discrimination that Bartlett and women like her all over the country face on a daily basis. New Zealand women have an historic reputation as leaders who break down barriers to political power. We pride ourselves on being the first country where women won the right to vote. Our first female MP won a seat in 1933 and in recent years we have had two female prime ministers and governors-general, a Chief Justice, chief executives of some of our biggest companies and other prestigious positions. However, these shining examples do not reflect the reality of the barriers most women face. These women leaders have not succeeded because NZ has lowered or dismantled gendered employment barriers, political representation or social justice bar-



Helen Clark served three consecutive terms as NZ Prime Minister, from 1999 to 2008. She was the first woman elected PM at a general election.

riers. They have succeeded despite facing those barriers. That makes their achievements remarkable, but it does not make them ‘evidence’ that a country that has solved gender discrimination. As with other places around the world, there is a gender pay gap - women in New Zealand earn 87 cents for every dollar than men earn. Jobs where women dominate are normally lower paid and have poorer employment conditions. The pay gap has grown in recent years under a government that has taken an axe to pay and employment equity measures and worked hard to suppress pay for NZ’s lowest paid workers. Despite the stand out examples of women in the highest positions of leadership women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in many spheres. Among the polytechnics and universities where our members work, only one woman is a vice-chancellor of a university and 7 women are the chief executives of our 18 polytechnics. Within our own union, TEU, we work hard to ensure women have a prominent role leading the union. Nevertheless, like others, there is still work to do. Perhaps TEU falls into a similar myth as New Zealand with women holding some of the highest positions of power but not represented equally throughout all our structures. Our leader-

ship team of our national secretary, deputy secretary, national president, and two of the three vice-presidents are all women. However, sitting underneath that traditional divisions emerge. In a union where two-thirds of our members are women, more of our Branch Presidents are men and unsurprisingly all our administration staff are women. Women make up 60% of New Zealand’s wider union membership but hold less than a third of the senior leadership positions. TEU like many unions and organisations in New Zealand and around the world has a woman’s committee to advance the interests of women within the organisation and within the workplaces where our member work. Our committee Te Kahurangi Mareikura has worked on the issues we believe will dismantle some of the barriers women face working in tertiary education: an industrial and bargaining strategy that works for pay and employment equity, a Respect and Dignity campaign aimed at preventing workplace bullying and campaigning for an extension to paid parental leave. We hope these activities will reinforce the campaign that Kristine Bartlett and her fellow union members ran to take on gender discrimination and poverty wages. And then, in small steps, we will turn the myth of NZ’s gender equity into a reality. Suzanne McNabb is Women’s Officer, TEU.


women, work & careers Universities are considered meritocratic and in Australia in gender terms appear to be at the forefront of organisational equity initiatives with many universities recognised as Employers of Choice for Women by the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Yet significant differences remain in the positions women and men occupy within the university. Government statistics on university workforces for 2001-2012 indicate women represent 48% of academic staff and 64% of professional/general staff. The percentage of women in the professional/general staff workforce is increasing – from 58% in 1996 to 64% currently (DISSRTE 2012). Between 1991 and 2006, academic staff of Australian universities increased by 18.5%, although the increase in contract staff (29.4%) was significantly higher than for tenured staff (12.1%). The ARC Linkage Grant Gender and Employment Equity: Strategies for Advancement in Australian Universities focused on senior women academics, professional/ general staff and casual teaching academics. As research staff are an important category we have also developed a project in this area. As part of the Linkage project in 2011 we conducted the Work and Careers in Australian Universities (WCAU) survey, which revealed that 44% of academic staff are on fixed-term contracts. As this article will focus on women and leadership we discuss the situation for senior women, women professional/general staff and women in the research workforce.

Women in senior positions In common with the national data collected by the government, the WCAU survey revealed that men are more likely to reach senior academic positions. Seven% of women academics had reached Level E (Professor) compared with 15% of the men. Men were more likely to be at Level D (Associate Professor) than women: 14% men and 9% women. Yet women represented 51% of the academic staff. Staff on fixed term contracts were less likely to have appointments at these senior levels compared to their colleagues in on-going employment contracts. Between 35 and 53% of senior women mentioned that their careers had been impacted by attitudes towards gender.

Professional and general staff Staff in the professional/general workforce constitute 57% of the total university

workforce (DISSR 2011). Once again, women predominate in the lower level positions, that is at HEW Levels 4 and 5, while men dominate at HEW Levels 8 and above. Of the men, 41% are at HEW Level 8 and above, compared with 26% of the women. On one indicator women and men are the same, and that is educational attainment as 79% of professional and general staff have a degree, with 42% having a qualification higher than a bachelor’s degree (including a post-graduate diploma, Master’s or a PhD). Among the professional/general staff 29% of women and 24% of men are on fixed term contracts, and they are spread throughout the HEW levels. There is very little research on this group at all so we need to investigate this further.

Research staff For those academic staff who identified that research was their sole or main focus, only 16% (n=390) were employed in continuing positions. This left the overwhelming majority, 84% (n=2098) employed on fixed term contracts. Within this there was a fairly even gender balance. The majority (72%) of research staff are employed in the lowest 2 levels (A- tutor and B- lecturer) and there is a fairly even gender balance. Even those who have worked as research academic for more than 15 years are likely to be at Levels A and B. Only 18% of research staff are employed above Level C (senior lecturer). In contrast, the ‘traditional’ academic who combines research and teaching is much more likely to attain a senior position. Research staff in continuing positions are generally in the higher levels of D and E but there are fewer women than men in the senior levels (33% women and 49% men at Level E). Being on a fixed term contract also affected research staff accessing to opportunities for leadership and internal funds, necessary to continue research or apply for further grants. Women more than men expressed this was a problem in or for their careers.

Conclusions Overall gender equity policies in universities have taken us so far as there has been an increase in women employed in the sector but there is still a long way to go as women are still underrepresented in senior positions and still report that gender attitudes are affecting their careers. Vertical segregation remains by gender remains for both professional/general staff and academic staff as women are still less likely than men to reach senior ranks. Staff on fixed term contracts are also less likely to progress, so the least likely group to progress is women on fixed term contracts. As part of this project we have already begun a detailed investigation of fixed term research staff but we need to further investigate this group in the professional/general staff, as contract staff represent a significant proportion of staff overall. In the general and professional staff workforce vertical gender segregation means that women and men are clustered at certain HEW levels, so we see that differences in HEW levels between the sexes still persists. The level of first appointment for women continues to be lower than for men and there is still a barrier to women moving beyond HEW Level 7, but women are progressing – but much more investigation needed. The majority of research staff are fixed term and a large proportion are concentrated in the lowest 2 levels of appointment. While women in senior continuing research positions face difficulties the greatest divide in the research workforce is between permanent and fixed term research staff. The gender divide within the fixed term workforce occurs in access to research funding which is more problematic for women. Dr Kaye Broadbent and Professor Glenda Strachan, Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, Griffith University. A summary of major findings is available in the Work & Careers in Australian Universities: Executive Summary at the Project website: regulation-institutions/projects/work-careers-australianuniversities



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conference 2013 report

This year’s biennial NTEU National Women’s Conference on 19–20 June in Melbourne attracted women delegates from almost every NTEU Branch. Academic and general staff were equally represented and many delegates were attending an NTEU conference for the first time. The conference focussed upon women in leadership – formal and informal - in higher education, in unions and in politics. The purpose was to consider and contest the constructions and values of leadership from feminist perspectives. The objectives of the conference were: • To unpack concepts and practices of leadership and leadership capabilities. • To empower women to contest masculinist leadership structures and cultures. • To explore feminist perspectives on leadership – transactional to transformative leadership. • To entrench women and gender into collective bargaining. • To better position the Women’s Action Committee and networks at the centre of the Divisions and Branches. • To build and develop union membership. The general consensus was that good leadership is a collective effort where women need to act together and support one another to make positive change. This message was very clear in the plenary panels, as was the critical point that while sheer numbers of women do make some difference, numbers of feminists make a lot of difference.



The opening panel focussed upon ‘Women and leadership roles in higher education’ with Dr Kaye Broadbent from the Business School Griffith University. One of the chief investigators on the ARC Linkage Project Gender and Employment Equity, she spoke of findings of the survey of male and female general and academic and including casual academic staff from 19 universities (see article p.15). From Socially Inclusive Education at Victoria University and former Gender Studies lecturer, Associate Professor Katie Hughes talked of her own experiences in the context of the theory and literature women and leadership. Andrea Brown, also of Victoria University spoke of the very real barriers to general staff women’s collective advancement drawing also upon her long experience as both the university’s EEO officer and member of the NTEU branch executive and bargaining teams (see Andrea Brown’s article p.10).

The panel on the second day was on ‘Women and leadership roles’ and asked whether Julia Gillard as Prime Minister had made a difference for women and girls. Chaired by Louise Connor, secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the panellists were retiring Senator Trish Crossin, CPSU (SPSF) Secretary Karen Batt and international guest NZ Tertiary Education Union Women’s Officer Suzanne McNabb (for an account of the session see Katie Wilson’s article on p.12). Other plenary sessions included University of Sydney casuals activists Claire Parfitt and Sharni Chan speaking about the situation for women working as casual academics and their campaign to ‘overcome invisibility’ (see p.18). Susan Kenna, National Industrial Officer focussed the gender lens onto enterprise bargaining, while National Policy and Research Coordinator Paul Kniest showed delegates how to read the numbers and understand where the universities are spending the money.

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The final plenary was on ‘Feminism in universities – Why we still need Bluestocking Week’ and featured Gender Studies lecturer, Dr Sharon Bickle from the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland (see her article on p.23) and NUS National Education Officer Clare Keyes-Liley. Clare titled her presentation ‘Our bluestockings are fading’ which was indicative of how much pressure she thought that women students and feminist activists are experiencing in universities. Workshops focussed upon further developing our individual and collective capacity to ensure that gender analyses are not neglected in enterprising bargaining, recruiting, organising and campaigning. Activity focussed workshops included organising against casualisation and for secure jobs in universities in creative ways with Sydney University Casuals Network who taught us their clever and innovative yoga based action (see p.18); making an election campaign video; and singing for strength

and solidarity educating. On the second day workshops focussed upon organising for safety at work (anti-bullying) (see Helena’s Spyrou’s article on p.19); strategies for an inclusive practice at work (See Celeste Liddle’s article on p.24); organising in the election campaign and rolling out the new Gender Equality Act (see Terri MacDonald’s article on p.26).

Photos by Terri MacDonald

It was a packed agenda, but the feedback was very positive with delegates returning to their workplaces full of enthusiasm with some immediately becoming involved in Bluestocking Week events and wanting to also get involved in wider Branch activities. As I have noted before, research has shown that women are attracted to unions that work for women and on issues that matter for women. For more on the conference including plenary and workshop presentations, go to Jeannie Rea, National President



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women’s conference Workshops

creative campaigning

Within Sydney University’s strong and active Union membership, casual and contract staff have been the driving force behind a suite of creative and innovative tactics to keep management on its toes. In addition to vital bread-and-butter organising tactics of holding members’ meetings, talking to colleagues, and taking crucial industrial action, these creative actions have communicated to new audiences, have drawn new activists into the Union and have increased the pressure on management. Casual staff have been considered ‘unorganisable’ by many unions. But with casuals now accounting for over half the teaching in Australian universities, unions and on-going university staff can no longer afford to ignore the pressures created by casualisation. NTEU research published in 2012 found that since 1996, the use of casual workers to perform core teaching roles has increased by 81 per cent, with over half of all undergraduate teaching now done by casual academics. A stratified workforce with vastly polarised wages and conditions is undermining the long-term quality of work life and job security of all staff in the tertiary education sector. The USYD Casuals Network began to organise during the management’s job cuts in early 2012. By the time enterprise bargaining began in mid 2012, the Network was prepared to contribute demands to the bargaining team for better casuals’ conditions and to provide pathways out of casual work. Throughout the campaign, the Casuals Network has consistently adopted a range of tactics to increase our visibility to our colleagues, to the management and within the Union. This has involved standing sideby-side with other staff and students on the picket lines, as well as taking up some less orthodox means of campaigning. Outside a University Senate meeting in May, casuals staged a ‘yoga class’ highlighting management’s constant and unreasonable demands for ‘flexibility’. For casuals, ‘flexibility’ means having work hours changed or cancelled at short notice, inconsistent wages, and no access to sick pay or holiday pay. Casuals also perform hours of unpaid



labour, often under pressure from more senior academics, who are themselves compelled to do more work for less. Following this first yoga action, the Network has used it at picket lines and rallies. These demonstrations embarrassed University management, captured the imaginations of other staff and students, raised the profile of casual staff in the bargaining campaign, and more broadly in the community. The impact of action was amplified by publication of an article, written by three casual activists, in the online media (newmatilda. com/2013/05/06/just-how-flexible-arecasual-academics). Recently, casual academics literally took their demands to the door of the ViceChancellor during the exam period. Thirty casuals armed with banners and placards, folding tables and stacks of exam papers, staged a ‘mark-in’ outside the ViceChancellor’s office. The action highlighted underpayment of casuals for work such as marking and the lack of support and resources such as office space. The action also created an opportunity to communicate directly to management as well as students and other passersby about unrealistic workloads, low wages and the precarious nature of casual work. These actions engage workers in taking up and politicising public space. Importantly, the mark-in also created a space for workers to overcome some of the isolation that the structure of casual work imposes.

Spending a few hours working side-by-side in the sunshine, sharing stories about our working lives, and otherwise getting better acquainted, casual workers broke down the barriers and silos that academia creates. This was an important step in building solidarity and our on-going capacity for collective action. There is no substitute for withdrawing labour as a means for workers to exert pressure when negotiating with employers. Indeed, strikes have been crucial to the success of the 2013 Sydney University enterprise bargaining campaign. However, as union members and critics call for new campaigning strategies, these actions demonstrate how creative tactics can be used effectively to support and complement industrial action. Claire Parfitt and Sharni Chan presented a plenary and workshop session at the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference. Above: Yoga class outside a Senate meeting. Below: ‘Mark in’ outside the VC’s office.

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singing for solidarity anti-bullying NSW Division Vice-President (Academic) Cathy Rytmeister led our first ever singing workshop. She penned the song Solidarity for Women! which the workshop participants performed for the conference delegates. When the Union’s inspiration through the women’s blood shall run. There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun. For what force on earth can beat us when the women work as one. For the Union makes us strong!

Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever. For the Union makes us strong! When the women of the Union get together in July. There is fun and food and partying, on that you can rely. And we’ll talk of revolution and our purple flags we’ll fly. For the Union makes us strong! Solidarity forever... etc. There’s so much to share and talk about, the learning curve is steep. There are workshops, there are panels and discussions broad and deep. But it’s so much fun we wonder how we’ll ever get to sleep! And the Union keeps us strong! Solidarity forever... etc. Though our workloads and our bargaining weigh heavy on our hearts. And our progress in negotiations moves in fits and starts. Together we’re much greater than the sum of all our parts. For the Union makes us strong! Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever. For the Union makes us strong! For the Union makes us strong!

At this year’s NTEU Women’s Conference, a workshop on workplace bullying was offered as this has become endemic in higher education. The workshop explored anti-bullying strategies in educating and organising for safety at work focusing on acting collectively to develop a counter-culture to prevent and address bullying. Participants identified the importance of analysing power relationships and workplace structures; building resilience to challenge a bullying culture; exposing and revealing bullying by identifying and naming unacceptable behaviours; creating awareness through education and training; insisting on and having input into effective institutional policies and procedures; developing strong anti-bullying clauses in our Enterprise Agreements; and most importantly, insisting that employers have a responsibility to provide a bullying-free workplace. Bullying is about power. Bullying harms individuals and is an abuse of our human rights and dignity. It can be subtle and difficult to identify, but ultimately it aims to intimidate and denigrate. Demanding an antibullying workplace is a challenge to the employer’s power. The workplace is overlaid with formal and informal power hierarchies where the employment relationship is unequal.

Hierarchical managerial structures and practices can legitimise the exercise of power as a vehicle for bullying. Oppressive work environments and increased corporatisation in managerial practice can enable and even sanction a bullying culture. Consequently, workplace bullying behaviour is often tolerated, entrenched and difficult to counteract and may be resistant to identification and intervention because it is entwined with the process of managing a workplace. There are limits to the Union’s capacity to address the problem through focusing on individual victims and perpetrators as sites for change though mediation or forms of legal redress. Although workers can seek redress for bullying through the Fair Work Commission and bullying may contravene OHS legislation, anti-discrimination legislation, equal opportunity legislation and may also constitute a crime, legal remedies are difficult to achieve. The Union aims to run anti-bullying education and training for members. Please contact Helena Spyrou ( if you have thoughts or ideas to contribute. Helena Spyrou is Education & Training Officer, NTEU National Office



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What do you do? I don’t mean your job

When we meet new people, they will usually ask ‘What do you do?’, meaning what is your employment. But we’re all more than just our day job, so participants at the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference contributed photographs to describe what they do when they’re away from campus.

Karen Ford This is me at Munghorn e Gap just outside of Mudge hed bus NSW. We had walked 4 kilometres to get into this location.

Marianne Doyle-Pegg and I motorcycle, read, knit to ced odu listen to music intr . son old ar-ye 24 me by my I and er lov r, the mo a I am keep people laughing.

Sharon Dennis ne This is me beside our pla gle nbo Bar when we flew to am I ch. lun for golf course only the passenger in our plane, I don’t fly it!



Claire Parfitt I’m a ukelele player!

Sonia Graham One of the things I do is take photos of natural or objects, such as flowers s. landscape

conference 2013 Natalie Lloyd oss AusI drove and camped acr four my h wit tralia for 7 weeks was She ). (75 m Mu my sons and on e worried I wouldn’t manag – I was my own so came with us t. Best por sup her of really proud dside morning teas on the roa with her.

Rosalie Bunn My outside activity is ‘grandmothering’. They all come for dinner every Monday night.

Debra Hackett This is me on my Yamaha V-Star 650.

Karen Woodman go This is me doing the tan es. Air in Buenos

Kate Makowiecka I’m a darner!

Sharni chan This is me climbing on Tonsai Beach in Thailand.

Wendy Giles Me at the MCG watching the Freo Dockers!



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I was thrilled to be chosen as the NTEU Murdoch Branch’s delegate for the 2013 Women’s Conference.

Attending the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference was a special experience for me, particularly as it was soon after our first female PM had been replaced.

I have been a union activist since my first job as an 18-year-old, and I have been an active member of the NTEU, especially from 2008-2010 when I sat on the Murdoch Branch Committee. The Conference came at an apt time of my personal and professional life. I have just completed my PhD in Politics and am now actively looking for ongoing academic work. In the meantime, I am employed as a casual staff member. I had read about the casuals’ campaign in the NTEU’s casual publication, Connect, and was delighted to meet Sharni Chan and Claire Parfitt in person at the Conference dinner, as well as enjoying their presentation to the Conference. It is heartening to see the attention that is now being paid to the casualised academic workforce by our union. As a woman who has spent the last five years as primary care-giver to my young children as well as completing my PhD, the Conference provided a valuable opportunity for me to encounter other women who have had to juggle family and work, and to consider what lies ahead for me in my academic career. I teach Sex and Gender Politics at Murdoch University so a lot of the material covered in the various sessions was pertinent to my academic work. In that regard, there was one fact which I learnt during the Conference and kept coming back to. This was the idea that women need university degrees in order to earn the kinds of wages that many more men can earn in trades (because ‘female’ trades are feminised and hence low-paid). I really enjoyed the experience of shooting a YouTube campaign video with some other women, and the difference that university education makes to women’s earning capacity was the feature upon which I focused in my contribution. With this year’s focus on leadership, there was a lot of discussion of ‘feminine’ transformative leadership styles. Associate Professor Katie Hughes made an excellent point in this regard: if it’s true that certain leadership styles are associated with women (i.e. that they are gendered behaviour), then we should make sex and gender synonymous by utilising transformative leadership styles, because they are superior to what’s currently on offer. Another highlight for me was the session on the difference Julia Gillard has made to women and girls. This was a poignant session for the panellists and participants. The contributions were excellent. It was like being on Q&A! Some of the written material provided at the beginning of the Conference talked about the function of the Conference in strengthening us and building our resilience. I hadn’t realised how much I needed that until I was there. Working as a casual academic can be soul destroying and everything requires a battle. To spend two solid days in the company of excellent union women was exactly what I needed. I hardly knew anyone upon arrival and left with some solid new friends whom I hope I will have the opportunity to see again.

From the Welcome to Country by Aunty Carolyn Briggs to the closing plenary, the two days were packed with useful knowledge, friendly networking, valuable activities and fascinating insights. Some of the highlights for me were the evidence of continuing imbalance of women in the higher levels of both professional and academic staff, including senior management. In spite of more women employees overall in Higher Education, there is still a significant gap in salaries between males and females. Some sessional lecturers explained how they were drawing attention to their grievances (such as lack of access to computers and office space) through creative campaigning techniques including yoga! The panel which discussed the impact of having a female Prime Minister included the Women’s Officer from the NZ Tertiary Education Union and Senator Trish Crossin from the NT. Differing perceptions were interesting (taking bad advice, trying to be something you are not, victim of the press, misogyny etc.), but the overall consensus was that the path has been smoothed for a future female PM. Sessions on bargaining (make sure the financial position of the university is clear!) and university compliance to the new Gender Equity Act were enlightening as I have not heard anything about the latter from ECU. Learning to sing appropriate songs (Solidarity) and the Conference dinner were a chance to be a little more lighthearted. I also gained some ideas about Bluestocking Week which I hope to put into practice at the Bunbury campus. Wendy Giles is Associate Dean Academic Programs at ECU Southwest.

Beth Cole It was both a privilege and a pleasure to attend the WAC meeting (as an observer) and the Women’s Conference. Learning how WAC functions and the role it takes in the NTEU was very helpful, as was seeing how other universities are faring in their struggles to include domestic violence clauses in Agreements. One of many highlights of the Conference was hearing about the Sydney University casuals’ campaign – which involved performance yoga to demonstrate the plight of casuals. And I must admit to being compelled to attend a snap action at the State Library following Kevin Rudd’s announcement about the PNG refugee ‘solution’.

I would like to thank everyone who made this conference, and my attendance at it, possible.

On a side note, the food provided for the conference was fabulous! But, most of all, it was wonderful to be around so many inspiring and amazing women!

Dr Katie Attwell is a Sessional Unit Coordinator in Politics at Murdoch University.

Beth Cole is the NTEU Murdoch University Branch Organiser.




Feminism in Australian Uni’s

sharon bickle

There is something gloriously madcap about the NTEU’s Bluestocking Week. As everyone who has tried to festoon an open area with balloons and stockings knows, it’s impossible to stop them kicking up their heels. While there is an underlying sense of anachronism to the celebrations – who would question the value of women staff and students to Australian universities? – we are not so far removed from those early bluestockings to recapture the frisson of forbidden books and forbidden spaces. For Australian feminists, however, it can be a bittersweet celebration. It’s not just about the ongoing struggle for women to approach something like equity in our access to workplace conditions, opportunity, and promotion (although these are huge issues); increasingly it seems that while women are welcome at the higher education table, the new tougher budgetary environment means feminists at several universities are having to justify Gender and Women’s Studies as a field of undergraduate study and even the importance of gender-based units within new leaner majors.

What this approach failed to capture is the impact and significance of Gender Studies at UQ, and the mostly invisible cross-disciplinary contributions it makes to the large number of honours and postgraduate students working on gender-related projects. Only one year ago, very different things were being said about Gender Studies.

It needs to be said that, from anecdotal evidence, this is not uniformly the case and the status of Gender Studies programs varies widely across the country. Gender studies at University of Sydney and University of Melbourne is growing strongly and rebuilding, at other institutions it is holding steady, while at University of Wollongong Gender Studies has been cancelled, and staff and students at La Trobe University last year fought off moves to axe it.

Last year, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Women’s Studies/Gender Studies at UQ. Women’s Studies was set up in 1972 by Merle Thornton, a significant figure in the struggle for women’s rights in Australia for her early direct action when she and Ro Bogner chained themselves to the rail of the Regatta Hotel to protest the Queensland Liquor Act’s prevention of the sale of alcohol to women in public bars, and her pivotal role in the elimination of the Marriage Bar. (see article in Agenda 2012). Merle Thornton’s work has been taken up by Professor Carole Ferrier, herself a formidable figure in Women’s/Gender Studies in Australia, and by a large collegium of feminist scholars who teach into the program (see p.30).

At the University of Queensland (UQ) – one of the two oldest programs in Australia – the major was ‘discontinued’ in February this year as part of an Arts Faculty review of all majors within the BA. On paper, the reasons look compelling: small numbers of students declaring the major; low course enrolments at third year level; no Honours program. Within the parameters of the review, getting rid of Gender Studies was a no-brainer.

The Gender Studies Teaching Committee at UQ – supported by the NTEU – launched a campaign in support of the major, similar to that successfully run at La Trobe. We received over 80 letters of support and a petition collected over 800 signatures. These responses demonstrate the high regard in which Gender Studies at UQ is held by former students and Australian and international scholars, including senior figures in the area.

While the campaign has not prevented the major’s discontinuation, UQ has recently approved a stand-alone minor in Gender Studies. This will ensure continuity for this flagship program, and holds out the possibility of rebuilding the major. One of the key arguments against Gender Studies as a field of inquiry is that gender is now such a normative part of what a university does, that a specialised study is no longer necessary. What this campaign has highlighted is just the opposite. Viewed in the broader context of higher education policy, this illustrates how the current budgetary climate is playing out in our universities: its winners and its losers. And its potential to impact disproportionately on women: on female students and staff members. It speaks directly to the fragility of women’s occupation of these recently forbidden spaces, and of women’s voices in the university and in Australian culture. Sharon Bickle recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Queensland. During her fellowship she tutored in the first year Gender Studies course and was a member of the Gender Studies Teaching Committee. Dr Bickle spoke at the 2013 NTEU Women’s Conference. Photo: Students and staff protesting the cancelling of Gender Studies at UQ earlier this year.



indigenous SECTION

Strategies for Inclusivity Indigenous women and the academy

celeste liddle

It is no secret that universities remain bastions of white male privilege. Learning systems are dominated by these pedagogies as are upper management structures. Despite the fact that women have been accessing university at a higher rate than men for quite a while the institutions remain greatly unchanged. Through the work of the NTEU, particularly during bargaining rounds, we aim to redress some of those imbalances so that universities become more inclusive of women’s experiences in the workplace. When it comes to accessing higher education, Indigenous women are far outstripping Indigenous men. At this point in time, Indigenous women are enrolling at twice the rate of men, and they make up 67% of the Indigenous staff in universities. They also make up 70% of the Indigenous NTEU membership. As students, Indigenous women are much more likely to be matureaged than non-Indigenous students, and are also more likely to have dependants. As staff, Indigenous women are more likely to be at the top of their increment table and stay there for years. It’s telling that despite the heavily feminised workforce, of the 6 top-level Indigenous positions within the sector (PVC/DVC Indigenous or similar) only two of them are filled by women. With this in mind, how can the NTEU, and indeed the entire sector, become more inclusive of Indigenous women and work better towards equity? Whilst it is true that some of the issues facing Indigenous women are unique, this is not always the case and indeed, having a greater understanding of these issues can lead to a better environment for all women on campus.

In the frontline Indigenous women are often at the coalface of issues affecting other marginalised groups in the sector. In the NTEU’s 2011 report I’m not a Racist, but... over 60% of respond-



ents indicated that they had experienced lateral violence in the workplace. Lateral violence, briefly speaking, is the competition, bullying, undermining and other such negative activities that occur amongst peers in a workplace, rather than on a hierarchical basis. Lateral violence prevails because historically oppressed people turn against each other, rather than focussing their attention on the sources of oppression. Over 70% of the Indigenous membership responded to the survey questions, which means that a great deal of the data was coming from the women. Incidences of racism in the sector were reported at nearly 80%, as was lack of cultural understanding and respect towards workers. Lateral violence as a concept initially came out of research done in North America within the nursing profession. These understandings, therefore, came from female-dominated workplaces where these women had been the life-long recipients of gender-based oppression. Lateral violence ONLY exists because systems of oppression exist, and if these systems became more egalitarian, lateral violence would also be alleviated. Indigenous women in higher education have dual systems of oppression (at the very least) affecting their working lives: white privilege and male privilege. This means that their experiences of lateral violence are likely to be amplified or occur more frequently than that experienced by other marginalised groups. Similarly, they are also more likely to encounter bullying due to intersecting methods of oppression. Because racism and sexism are both tools of the

oppressor, it is therefore more likely that an Indigenous woman experiencing bullying will face racism and sexism as a means of subjugation. Due to these unique experiences, Indigenous women have much to contribute on discussions as to how these issues can be alleviated. Do engage Indigenous women in these discussions constantly as there is vast knowledge to be shared.

gaining recognition Indigenous women have even more issues gaining recognition. A senior Indigenous female academic once complained to me that she was never referred to by her academic title like her male colleagues were, but only by her first name. She was of higher standing than them yet was not afforded the same level of acknowledgement. Similarly, I recently received advertising materials for an Indigenous health conference that offered separate men’s and women’s streams. The men’s conference spoke of the careers men held down, the important jobs they did and the need to have opportunities to network with other professional men. In contrast, the women’s conference spoke of women moving into jobs whilst juggling families and supporting men. Men were discussed as autonomous human beings whilst women were only defined by their relationships and responsibilities to others. Whether it’s within the sector or within our own communities, Indigenous women do not always get their due recognition.


Aunty kerrie doyle graduates from oxford NTEU congratulates University of Canberra (UC) Indigenous Branch Committee member, Kerrie Doyle, for being the first Indigenous Australian woman to graduate from Oxford University. Aunty Kerrie, a proud Winninninni woman who grew up on Darkinjung country, completed a Master of Science in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy at Wolfson College as part of the Roberta Sykes Scholarship program. Kerrie is an assistant professor in Nursing at UC, and a current PhD candidate at ANU through the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. She stresses that her achievement was not a solo effort and that she had unbelievable support from colleagues at UC. Kerrie received many messages of support whilst she was at Oxford, and on her return to the UC was welcomed back. Aunty Kerrie is additionally thankful that UC created the space for her to undertake this opportunity, both financially through flexible leave arrangements. As well as having the opportunity to undertake her studies in what was a

ground-breaking course, Aunty Kerrie names other highlights of her time at Oxford as having lunch with a Nobel Laureate, and delivering a lecture at the Nelson Mandela Theatre. She also delivered a paper at the International Nursing Research Conference in London. Kerrie describes her time at Oxford as a very busy time spent in the library an awful lot; she relished the one or two days she had off where she was able to relax and go and see a film. Thanks to the Roberta Sykes and Charles Perkins Scholarship programs, there is now quite a cohort of Indigenous students undertaking postgraduate degrees at both Oxford and Cambridge. Kerrie felt that this has created a wonderfully supportive

network of students, and whilst she was at Oxford, she was ‘Aunty’ to many of them. Kerrie is one of four Indigenous students to graduate through these scholarship programs this year (Greg Lehman and Krystal Lockwood will graduate with a Masters in History of Art and Visual Culture and a Masters in Criminology & Criminal Justice respectively from Oxford, and Lilly Brown graduated with a Masters of Philosophy in Politics from Cambridge) and knows that the others coming through now will also be successful. Photo courtesy of Michelle McAulay, UC

Strategies for Inclusivity continued Our women are more qualified than our men due to our higher education access rates. We deserve acknowledgement for that and for the expertise that we bring to the table. We should never be underestimated by virtue of our race and sex because, if anything, we have been leading the charge.

Community is key If there are issues on campus affecting Indigenous students and staff it is likely that the local and broader Indigenous communities know of it and will be asking questions of the Indigenous staff at that University. If you are looking to grow Indigenous staff and student numbers on campus, a continual engagement with the Indigenous community based on respect is the best way to achieve this. Indigenous staff will often speak of how their community responsibility extends into their workplace. This is affirming for those staff members yet it does mean that there are usually additional levels of pressure. It is important to continually engage community in order to build esteem and it is also important to act quickly and appro-

priately on issues affecting Indigenous staff and students as issues extend beyond the institutions. Building community esteem, collaboration and inclusiveness builds everything else.

Avoid avoidance We should understand that there are no definitive answers but avoidance is the worst thing ever. Indigenous women are not an autonomous group that have everything in common all the time. One of the worst things people can do though is assume that an Indigenous person presenting with a workplace issue has an ‘Indigenous issue’ and then put that issue in the ‘too hard basket’ because it’s assumed that expertise is required or that going in will only cause offence. There may be intricacies around culture and community that need to be understood, but one of the best ways to understand is to fully engage and ask questions. As with the need to act quickly when it comes to alleviating community pressures on staff, so too is there a need to act quickly so that Indigenous staff know their concerns

are being taken seriously and not being seen as being too difficult to handle.

We are few but we are strong Indigenous members are a small contingent, but they are a powerhouse. Indigenous female academics are the most unionised group of the NTEU, standing at about 65% unionised. The overall Indigenous membership rate within the sector is roughly 41% of all Indigenous staff. In the past 10 years, Indigenous staffing numbers in the sector have doubled, whilst Indigenous NTEU membership has quadrupled. This means that whilst things such as Indigenous clauses may only apply to a small group of people, that small group is highly unionised and need to be properly represented. As with all of the above, ensure conversations are collaborative and ongoing. The NTEU recognises the right for Indigenous members to assert their sovereignty within the Union via the 10 Point Plan for a PostTreaty Union ( publications). Celeste Liddle is National Indigenous Organiser.




The New Workplace Gender Equality Act

a step in the right direction

terri macdonald

Equal Pay Day this year is on 3 September. The date marks the extra 64 days women in Australia must work after the end of the financial year to earn the same average pay as men. With the pay gap between men and women in Australia currently at 17.5%, it is clear that the journey to gender equality in the workplace still has a long way to go. However, it’s not all bad news. Recently, new legislation to promote gender equity in the workplace – one of the leading factors that influences equal pay – came into effect. This legislation is a major step in ending the rhetoric around gender and pay equity, and is a step towards producing tangible equity outcomes.

new act and agency In 2012, after years of lobbying and following much consultation with unions, community groups and employers, the Labor Government replaced the largely ineffectual Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (EOWW Act) with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (WGE Act). The changes were designed to focus on promoting and improving gender equality outcomes for both women and men in the workplace. Consequently, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency is now the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), with improved responsibilities and reporting requirements.

What is the Act designed to do? The principal objects of the WGE Act are to: • Promote and improve gender equality (including equal remuneration between women and men) in employment and in the workplace. • Support employers to remove barriers to the full and equal participation of women in the workforce, in recognition of the



disadvantaged position of women in relation to employment matters. • Promote, amongst employers, the elimination of discrimination on the basis of gender in relation to employment matters (including in relation to family and caring responsibilities). • Foster workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning gender equality in employment and in the workplace. • Improve the productivity and competitiveness of Australian business through the advancement of gender equality in employment and in the workplace.

Who does it Apply to? Employers with over 100 employees in Australia (excluding public sector employers) will need to report on how they are improving gender equity in the workplace through annual reports to the Agency. This includes universities and the NTEU. Employers must report against a set of standardised Gender Equality Indicators (GEIs). In 2013, all that employers needed to report against was a workplace profile, but from 2014 onwards they will need to report against all GEIs.

What are the gender equality indicators? GEIs are intended to address the most pressing challenges to gender equity in the workplace. The six indicators require

Employers to report to the Agency on: a. Gender composition of the workforce. b. Gender composition of governing bodies of relevant employers. c. Equal remuneration between women and men. d. Availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities. e. Consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace. f. Any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument. The Agency must submit to the Minister a report on the progress achieved in relation to the GEIs every two years, with the first report due after the two year period ending on 31 May 2016.

Employment matters The new WGE Act also updated the employment matters that were previously contained in the old Act. These reflect areas of historical disadvantage experienced by women in the workplace, and from 2014 employers will need to also address these in their Reports. The employment matters are defined as: • The recruitment procedure, and selection criteria, for appointment or engagement of persons as employees.


• The promotion, transfer and termination of employment of employees.

Employer Gender Equality Reports

• Training & development for employees.

The Employer reports are publicly available via the Agency website (although they will not include personal information). Employees and their representative organisations (such as unions) are also to be informed of where and when they can access the employer Reports, and can make comment if they wish to the Agency.

• Work organisation including flexible working arrangements. • Conditions of service of employees including equal remuneration between women and men. • Arrangements for dealing with sexbased harassment of employees in the workplace. • Arrangements for dealing with pregnant, or potentially pregnant employees and employees who are breastfeeding. • Arrangements relating to employees with family or caring responsibilities (including for those affected by domestic violence). Yet to be developed are the Minimum Standards, which will represent the standards needed to improve gender equity outcomes over time. These will be evidencebased and set by the Minister. These standards may relate to specified GEIs, be industry specific, and have their own reporting periods. The Minister will set minimum standards after consultation with the Agency and other stakeholders and these will apply from the 2014–15 reporting period.

siderable gender inequity within our universities, despite the plethora of university policy that is intended to address this issue. It is clear that women are over represented in insecure employment (particularly casual teaching), and that universities rely heavily on casual teaching. Also clear is the under representation of women in higher academic levels and in senior management roles.

While the Agency is currently taking an educational approach with employers, the Act does outline various consequences for employers that do not report, or are false in their reporting. However, the most damage to an employer in failing to meet their reporting duties is to their reputation, as all reports are public and available to both employees and their unions.

Whilst the NTEU has known that this has been the case for many years, the WGEA data clearly shows the severity of gender inequity in higher education. From 2014, we hope to have information on the levels of difference in remuneration, and other employment matters.

What is the 2012 Gender Equity data showing?

For more information on the WGE Act, please see ‘WGE Act at a Glance’ at default/files/Branded_act_at_a_glance_wgea.pdf

Terri MacDonald is Policy & Research Officer in the NTEU National Office.

Universities have already commenced reporting for the 2013 period, and whilst the data being provided is primarily a staff profile, it already indicates that there is conVOLUME 21 SEPTEMBER 2013



Dignified and decent work, hard won and defended by Australian workers and their unions, is still being fought for by our partners in developing countries around the world.

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA needs more new monthly donors in our Global Justice Partner program, to enable people, like the Cambodian beer workers in this image, to lift themselves out of poverty by organising for and achieving decent work.

Become a Global Justice Partner today. Call 1800 888 674 or visit

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was established in 1984 to express the Australian union movement’s commitment to social justice and international solidarity for human rights and development.

Aid Abroad APHEDA Union AidUnion Abroad APHEDA

We do this through support for adult-focused education, training and development projects overseas, The overseas humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU Theoroverseas working in partnership with those whose rights to development are restricted denied. humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU You can show your solidarity by becoming a Global Justice Partner and making a tax deductible monthly contribution to our work.

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the alarming state of women’s safety on campus Content warning: this article contains discussion of sexual violence.

lorelei links

In 2011, the National Union of Students (NUS) Women’s Department launched a survey into the incidence of sexual harassment and assault on campus. The survey, Talk About It, produced one particularly harrowing figure: 67% of women responding to the surveyed reported they had an unwanted sexual experience on campus. Nearly half of these students reported that they had sex when they had been, or had felt, unable to consent. Of these, only 3% said they had reported it to their university, and only 2% reported it to the police. Overwhelmingly, the reason was that they did not consider the incident serious enough to warrant attention. Seeing the numbers is a shock - not unfortunately because it’s so difficult to believe that the world can be a threatening and at times dangerous place for women, but because these incidents took place at university. Across the country, when women exercise their right to education, they must be able to do so in spaces that are safe. On my own campus, the University of Queensland, I have become increasingly aware of a disturbing culture that permeates the campus, particularly in the residential colleges. In my first semester I’d felt unsafe on campus at night and had been the subject of aggressive remarks, but until I spoke to other women, I thought that any kind of reaction would be an overreaction. But the Talk About It survey results suggest that these are the kinds of experiences women are having on campuses around the country. Through my involvement with the UQ Women’s Collective I also learned for the first time that sexual harassment, sexual assault and the shaming of women aren’t just allegedly commonplace in the residential colleges, they are apparently proudly upheld as ‘tradition’ and their perpetuation as a rite of passage. I asked some women who are or have been college students to

describe their experiences to me. Women are encouraged, pressured or coerced into engaging in sexual activity, while simultaneously being shamed for their experiences. I was told that some colleges award a ‘Whore of the Floor’ achievement, while others physically brand women deemed to be promiscuous with permanent marker. I was told that ‘safety workshops’ are held during orientation weeks; during one, presented by a man, attendees were told to ‘say you need to pee and run for help’ if they were facing sexual assault. A number of chants are well known throughout the colleges, featuring graphic descriptions of male sexual domination. They are sung before parties and on nights out, often with women present. Competitions to sleep with the most women are apparently commonplace. I looked into the procedure to make a sexual assault complaint at my university, and it appears to be the same procedure as if one were to make an allegation of bullying. I can see no separate resources for women who have been the victim of assault. The only specific advice offered on the Equity Office website recommends that students take complaints of that nature to the police. Talk About It revealed that where students had reported incidents to their university, more often than not they were unhappy with the manner in which it had been addressed. It also revealed that more women were unaware than aware of services available to them, such as counselling.

At a university like my own, I think there is little confidence that there is any point in making a complaint because it is not believed that it will be taken seriously and followed through. I believe women in universities around the country, both staff and students, would benefit from a network that unites to provide support to one another. Whether the current state of affairs is the result of a lack of awareness, the need to gloss over undesirable incidents, or some combination of the two, the most pressing need is for women who have experienced sexual violence to have somewhere to turn. Standing in solidarity is the key to bringing the issue to the forefront of student affairs, and most importantly, to making sure that sexual violence is not ignored. I would like to extend an acknowledgement that women are not the only victims of sexual violence and that inclusivity is key to solidarity and support. Lorelei Links, Student, University of Queensland.

Editor’s note: NTEU National Council passed a motion in 2011 pledging to support NUS and Universities Australia in addressing the issues of safety and violence on campus. NUS is undertaking the Talk About It survey again this year. While this article is one student’s perspective at UQ, further anecdotal accounts from students at other universities, particularly about residential colleges, suggest that there is a real problem that must be taken seriously.




Carole Ferrier: Fighting the Good Fight for Forty Years

In 1973 Carole Ferrier raised more than a few eyebrows when she arrived in a red Alfa Romeo at the University of Queensland (UQ) to take up a lectureship in the rather stuffy English Department. An outspoken feminist and political activist, she’s still making waves. Now a Professor of Literature and Women’s Studies, she spoke to Carmel Shute, about what keeps her going, forty years later. ‘I’m still excited by the education I’m getting – and I’m still keen to keep teaching and keep the forces of darkness at bay. Back in 1973, Brisbane was a radical place. The student movement at UQ rivalled Monash’s. It was the tail end of the movement against the Vietnam War. Rising up was the women’s movement and the anti-racist mobilisations that grew out of the influential Springboks demonstrations and the 1960s Aboriginal rights struggles. ‘I’d had a completely conventional academic training, ten three hour examinations on Brit Lit that stopped at the early twentieth century – my doctorate was on establishing the correct texts of D.H. Lawrence’s poetry! At UQ, I continued my own further education, begun in the movements in Auckland, in terms of race and ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality,’ Ferrier said. ‘I immediately clicked with fellow lecturer Dan O’Neill, and together we transformed a boring course called Prose B into one which started with the Communist Manifesto and went on to Émile Zola, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists and Iris Murdoch! The English Department began to offer courses on literature and society, literature, struggle and revolution, literature and gender, postcolonial approaches and working-class writing. ‘The students were so keen, and eager for study that was relevant to understanding – even transforming – the ugliness of what was called then the military-industrial complex. The English Department was still locked into making students study Old Ice-



landic as part of their honours degree. We thought we were in the process of changing the university.’ Ferrier was transforming herself at the same time. She grew up in the British military and went to 15 schools, living in places like Malta and Germany. She married an ex-RAF airline pilot at the age of 17 and moved to New Zealand where she completed her BA (Honours) externally from the University of London and then a doctorate at the University of Auckland. Philosopher Merle Thornton had started UQ’s first women’s studies course in 1972,

the year before Ferrier arrived, and Ferrier quickly teamed up with Thornton and others to build a major, an ambition which took years to achieve. In the English Department, she initiated courses on women writers and feminist literary theory and criticism while in the Politics Department Di Zetlin (later a President of FAUSA, and inaugural NTEU National President) developed a course on women and politics. Cross-disciplinary courses drew in dozens of other academics. The major, finally approved in 1980, was initially offered in conjunction with Deakin and Murdoch universities.

MY CAREER ‘Over the past year, we’ve fought a huge battle to save the gender studies major at UQ. We lost that fight but did manage to set up a minor. The area has undergone quite a revamp, though not to the degree that’s happened at Sydney and Melbourne universities where dedicated staff were appointed to remodel the programs. Students are flocking to the new courses there but, over 41 years, UQ has never had dedicated staff or any funding for the women’s/gender studies program,’ Ferrier said.

of socialist movements in the 1920s and 1930s through biography, political history, and proletarian literature. It’s tremendously exciting.’ Ferrier became interested in historical enquiry soon after landing at UQ. ‘I used to sit in on Raymond Evans’s lectures on race relations in the History Department and eventually ended up editing and writing Radical Brisbane with him in 2004. It was a follow-on from the first of two volumes of Radical Melbourne published by Vulgar Press which had been set up by Ian Syson (now a senior lecturer at Victoria University), a doctoral student of mine. A lot of people looked bemused and said, ‘What radical Brisbane?’, but our book makes the case convincingly for the Red North.’

‘Now UQ is the only place in the whole state to offer a gender studies program, but students wanting to do honours or postgraduate research will have to go interstate. This just reinforces the Shallow South’s old perceptions of Queensland’s backwardness.’ What’s given Ferrier enormous satisfaction is her work on firebrand Queensland writer, Jean Devanny, who was a feminist and also a member and, sometimes organiser, of the Communist Party of Australia. In 1986, Ferrier edited Point of Departure: The Autobiography of Jean Devanny (UQP, reissued 2009) and in 1999 published a full-scale biography, Romantic Revolutionary (MUP). Ferrier also edited, As Good as a Yarn With You: Letters Between Franklin, Prichard, Devanny, Barnard, Eldershaw and Dark (Cambridge University Press) in 1994. ‘Romantic Revolutionary mostly focussed on Devanny’s little known but fascinating life and was not so much about her writing. Just recently I’ve returned to looking at her fiction, some of which still remains unpublished. I’m also situating her in the broader international context of writers like the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollantai who emerged out of the revolutionary upheaval of the early part of the twentieth century,’ Ferrier said. ‘As part of this, I’m working with Paula Rabinowitz from the University of Minnesota, Ruth Barraclough from the ANU, and others on a project called ‘Red Love Across the Pacific’ which brings together scholars of feminist history and literature from New Zealand, China, Japan and America. Together, we’re mapping the intimate life

Ferrier played her own part in Brisbane’s radical past, being arrested over 30 times during the ‘right to march’ and democratic rights demonstrations in the 70s and 80s. ‘I got arrested so often that people asked why I kept throwing myself at the police. I wasn’t. As I’ve been able to establish from my Special Branch file, which I now have, some of us were singled out for arrest. They had identity mugshots that they showed to the cops before demonstrations. Special Branch also remarked in their reports that all my cars were red, perhaps assuming they resembled my politics. They could be right about that,’ she laughs. ‘What a lot of people don’t appreciate is that [Premier] Bjelke-Petersen initially denied Queenslanders the ‘right to march’ because

he wanted mine owners to be able to export uranium unimpeded by demonstrators. In 1977, 418 of us were arrested at an anti-uranium rally and it set the scene for the next decade. Despite thousands of arrests, Bjelke-Petersen’s attempt to stifle dissent failed, and the strength of those movements, with huge support from left unionists, played a big role in the replacement of that government by Labor.’ Ferrier, who for quite some time was a member of the International Socialists, was also heavily involved in the 1985 SEQEB dispute (when the Queensland Government sacked 1100 electricity workers in an attempt to privatise the industry), action around the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, the 1988 Bicentennial organised by the Black movement, and the MUA waterfront dispute. In 1975, International Women’s Year, Ferrier assumed editorship of the brand-new women’s interdisciplinary journal, Hecate, a position she still holds. It is the longest running feminist scholarly journal in Australia by far, and was one of the first in the international arena. She is currently editing an issue on feminism and ecology. Ferrier also takes a role in raising two grandchildren, girls aged eight and fourteen. ‘I’m always frantically busy but I’m lucky I love what I do. I still enjoy teaching and my own education still goes on. The excitement of discovering new writers and building new fields of enquiry hasn’t dimmed, though the terms might have changed. In taking race, class, gender and sexuality into account, our frameworks for interpreting the world are much more complex and much more interesting, as they continue to evolve.’ Carmel Shute is the NTEU’s media officer and was deputy editor of Hecate from 1975-77. Above left: Carole Ferrier at the Emma Miller statue in Brisbane’s King George Square during a walking tour for the 2005 Suffrage Conference. Photo from www. Above right: Carole Ferrier with Merle Thornton. Opposite page: Hecate collective, 1975, with Carmel Shute (far left) & Carole Ferrier (far right). VOLUME 21 SEPTEMBER 2013



Carol johnson political scientist

An expert in Australian politics, Professor Carol Johnson’s academic career in the discipline of political science spans more than 30 years. Carol has worked at the University of Adelaide for most of that time, with two brief periods – the first at the University of Technology, Sydney in the mid-1980s, where she taught communications and the second at the Australian National University in the mid-1990s, where she was a Visiting Fellow in the Political Science Program, Research School of Social Sciences. Carol joined FAUSA (one of the NTEU’s predecessor unions) in the 1980s and has been Vice-President of her Branch at Adelaide, as well as a delegate to the NTEU National Council, the major decision-making body of the Union. ‘My parents were academics in English Literature and Psychology, respectively and they engendered in me a desire for working towards a more just and democratic society,’ she says. ‘My interest in politics began in my early teens, in the late 1960s where I became active in the student body of my high school, Methodist Ladies College in Adelaide, as well as being a member of the Student Representative Council. It was also the time of the Vietnam War when student activism was very strong. After I finished high school, I was active in student politics at University and have continued to nurture my passion for politics and activism as a teacher, as a researcher and as a union member.’ Carol graduated from the University of Adelaide, moved to Manchester University (where they had an excellent School



of Government) to complete her Masters in Economics and returned to Adelaide University to complete her PhD because her particular interest was in Australian politics.

being affected by these policies. Currently we are seeing this being played out in the policies of both the Labor and Liberal parties towards asylum seekers.’

‘The politics discipline at Adelaide University encompasses gender, race, ethnicity and more recently sexuality. So I have been able to explore a broad concept of politics as well as undertake specific research into the politics of emotion and analyses of ideology and discourse.’

Later this year, she’ll be co-convening (with John Wanna) the National Political Science post-Election Workshop in Canberra, a gathering of political scientists who will present and debate their points of view about the 2013 Federal Election.

Her applied research interests focus on how governments govern social, economic and technological change. Carol’s body of work in this discipline is impressive. Not only has she published numerous refereed articles, chapters and books, but she is also regularly called upon to provide her expert opinion of current political issues in news sources, such as The Conversation and The Drum. ‘The politics of emotions is a particular interest of mine. I have written on how politicians use emotion in their discourse to create, for example, fear, uncertainty or security. Politicians mobilise emotions and determine which emotions are legitimate to recognise and in turn attempt to influence who we should feel empathy for. For example, our governments didn’t recognise, until recently, our feelings of same sex love nor the loving relationship between Indigenous children and their parents. This then legitimised the policies governments put in place and legitimised the unjust treatment of the people

Carol has seen the Higher Education sector undergo numerous changes and these changes have impacted on the quality of teaching and research, on students’ engagement in study and in student campaigns, and on the conditions of university staff. ‘In the last 30 years student numbers have dramatically increased and the increase in the size of tutorials has meant that we cannot provide the same individual attention to each student. In the 1970s, as a student, I attended tutorials of eight students, in the 1980s, as a teacher, I had tutorials of 10-13 students and now, in 2013, I have tutorials of over 25 students. In my experience, students value face-toface contact in tutorials and on-line teaching needs to complement, not replace face-to-face teaching. ‘For example, there is sometimes an assumption that I can just record and regurgitate my lectures year after year. I work in a field that is constantly changing and it often takes me hours to update each lecture, so playing lectures from previous years won’t work. In addition, if I can’t watch how my students are responding to what I am saying, how can I adjust my lecture as I go along to meet their needs? There is a lack of recognition of the skills of teachers in doing this.’


Carol says students are still very interested in politics but it is harder for students to be politically active. ‘Since the advent of voluntary student unionism, it has not been possible for student organisations to have the funding they need for education campaigns. Also it is harder for students to be active politically when many work long hours a week, in casual work, in order to cover the costs of going to university. During the last 30 years, Carol has also experienced how the bureaucratisation of education has meant that academics have taken on a huge administrative load, which takes time away from research, preparation for classes and individual attention to students. In addition, the teaching loads of academics have increased dramatically. Carol also believes that academics have a responsibility to write for a broader audience. ‘But,’ she says, ‘research evaluation exercises are encouraging narrower perceptions of what constitutes academic research. Universities discourage academics from producing work for public debate because the focus is on research publications for research evaluation. There is no credit given

for communicating your research to the broader public.

strong union that can defend the interests of staff.

‘Research evaluation exercises often privilege conservative mainstream journals that don’t value research on social justice issues. So this type of research is not ranked highly in the ERA and is therefore considered less valuable.

‘The NTEU has achieved considerable success in improving the pay and conditions of university staff. The huge challenge the Union faces now, is the increasing casualisation of the workforce. There are so many bright and capable good teachers who are casual.’

‘Research in the humanities and social sciences often needs time, not large grants and because this type of research can be produced cheaply, it is undervalued. When education is commodified, the monetary value of research grants, that is, research that costs more is valued more.’ Why is this happening? ‘Well,’ says Carol, ‘the influence of neoliberal ideology, offers a narrow definition of what the economy is, especially areas of the economy that are in the public sector.

When asked, What can the NTEU do better?, Carol says that ‘the NTEU needs to continue to pursue a publicity campaign that clearly outlines to parents and students how this commodification of education and consequent cut backs by governments is impacting upon the quality of education being provided. For example, if students are paying all this money, how come their classes are larger, how come it is harder for them to get to speak with a staff member?’

‘Despite education in Australia being the fourth largest export industry, it seems permissible to make cuts in higher education. This ideological shift has impacted on what universities are able to do, how universities are valued and how research is valued.’

Does Carol have time to pursue other interests? ‘Nowadays, she says, ‘it is very hard for academics to have hobbies and interests outside of work. Difficult as it is, I’ve managed to pursue my other passion, which is film. So, yes, I still manage to see as many movies as I can.’

An active unionist for nearly 30 years, Carol believes that it is essential to have a

Helena Spyrou, Education & Training Officer, NTEU National Office VOLUME 21 SEPTEMBER 2013


science SECTION

chicks can’t code

I’ve seen The Social Network enough times to know that computer programmers tend to be skinny, antisocial twerps, who occasionally get punked by the cool kids before getting rich by stealing great ideas from their taller, more socially adroit counterparts. Oh, and they’re all dudes. The last part of this cartoonish stereotype is actually true, and recently a well-known entrepreneur sparked a big, angry interwebs debate when he posited that the reason this boys’ club exists is that women are genetically predisposed to suck at coding. It all started when Jason Pontin, editor and publisher of the MIT Technology Review, posted on Facebook about the ‘den of brogrammers’ that lives above the Review’s offices, and how there are ‘zero women’ there. He went on to say that most companies function better when they have male and female employees. But when Dave Winer, a software entrepreneur and tech blogger, joined the fray, things got a little bit heated. ‘You got problems with men?’ he asked commenters on Pontin’s Facebook thread. ‘Why don’t you like men acting like men?… People often jump to the conclusion that [the lack of female programmers] is the fault of men, because basically that’s our job, to be wrong and at blame.’

questions, or if we have them, we’re not supposed to express them where women can hear.’

enough to cook a nice dinner for their children. It was a pretty smart, thought out thread, especially for the internet.

Of the hundreds of comments that flooded his site, one of the most popular is from a female programmer who points out that scientifically, men’s and women’s brains are not that different. Meaning yes, women can easily channel the patience to hunt if they so choose. And men are innately caring

It was so smart and reasonable, in fact, that Winer walked back from his theory. In the meantime, the term ‘brogrammer’ is here to stay. Originally published by Versha Sharma on Vocativ (



Wrote the first algorithm encoded for processing by a machine and envisioned computers beyond mere calculating.

Co-invented spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, necessary for today’s wifi.

So what does Winer think is the reason for the lack of women employed in computer science? ‘There’s something about programming that makes many women not want to do it,’ he writes. ‘Programming is a very modal activity. To be any good at it you have to focus. And be very patient. I imagine it’s a lot like sitting in a blind waiting for a rabbit to show up so you can grab it and bring it home for dinner. There is specialization in our species. It seems pretty clear that programming as it exists today is a mostly male thing. Which also raises the obvious question that perhaps we can make it so that it can better-use the abilities of the other half of our species?’ To be fair, Winer does say that he wants to work with more women, and he specifically invited female readers to comment on his theory. Which they did. En masse. To the point that he closed the comments on his site. But not before some real hardcore ‘brogrammers’ joined the fray. ‘The reason people are reacting this way,’ one commenter writes, ‘is because men are not supposed to have opinions on gender





Worked calculating complex ballistic trajectory tables in WWII. As electronic computers were built, they taught the computers to do as they had done, becoming the first programmers.

Developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and conceptualised the idea of machine-independent programming languages.

Sources: Wikipedia, Scientopia. Original infographic concept:

science VALENTINA TERESHKOVA – 5O YEAR ANNIVERSARY 16 JUNE 1963 FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE During her three-day mission, Tereshkova performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight. “If women can be railroad workers, why can’t they fly in space?” Source: Wikipedia. Original infographic concept:

THESE WOMEN CHANGED THE WORLD WITH SCIENCE... TOO BAD A MAN WAS GIVEN ALL THE CREDIT CECILIA PAYNE-GAPOSCHKIN Discovered what the sun is made of. Was told not to publish her work by reviewer Henry Norris Russel. Four years later he repeated her work, published it and was given all the credit.

JOCELYN BELL BURNELL Discovered the first pulsar. Her senior Anthony Hewish put himself on the paper; he got all the credit and the Nobel Prize for Physics (together with fellow radio-astronomer Martin Ryle).

LISE MEITNER Co-discovered nuclear fission. The paper was intentionally published without her name, and colleague Otta Hahn won the Nobel Prize. Element 109, meitnerium, is named in her honour.

NETTIE STEVENS Discovered sex was determined by chromosomes. Sent her work to Thomas Morgan. In public he dismissed her as ‘just a technician’. He published his own book on sex determination and took all the credit. Source: Wikipedia. Original infographic concept: VOLUME 21 SEPTEMBER 2013


book review

Brilliant Women ‘Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings’ Elizabeth Eger & Lucy Peltz, Yale University Press, 2008

It’s little known these days that the term ‘bluestocking’ originally applied to both genders, coined first to refer to the botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet. Stillingfleet sported the blue worsted stockings worn by the working class rather than the ‘more formal’ white silk stockings at one of the parties hosted by Elizabeth Montagu in the mid-18th century. Montagu, along with Elizabeth Vesey and Frances Boscawen, hosted literary salons in London where women could debate ideas, literature and art with each other – and with men. At a time when women had precious few legal rights, ‘the Bluestocking Circle’, as it became known, offered a space where women could exercise both their intellects and voices in a sociable setting – and even become friends with men.

garb), as well as by statues, plaques and ‘friendship boxes’ with miniature portraits. Portraits often showed them with books or pens in hand and reading, writing or painting. Some like Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), and historian Catherine Macauley, were enthusiastic supporters of the French Revolution and championed women’s rights but they shocked more people by their unconventional sex lives than their ‘uncompromising politics’. Not surprisingly, the bluestockings attracted misogynist attacks. Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson were early leaders of the pack. Johnson, even though he was a member of the Blue Stocking Society, couldn’t abide women painters: ‘Public practice of any art ... and staring in men’s faces, is very indelicate in a female,’ he said.

Elizabeth Montagu (Allan Ramsay, 1762)

These bluestockings replaced popular amusements (such as cards and dancing) and alcohol ‘with the more refined pursuits of literary conversation and tea drinking’, Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Peltz, authors of Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings, tell us. ‘Queen of the Blues’ was Montagu, a businesswoman, critic and patrons of the arts, who granted annuities to fellow female authors after her husband’s death. The bluestockings were the harbingers of the Enlightenment and were celebrated in paintings and etchings (often in classical



Later, Lord Byron and Horace Walpole ridiculed the later generation of bluestockings. Walpole famously denounced Wollstonecraft as ‘a hyena in petticoats’. Playwright William Hazlitt said, ‘The bluestocking is the most odious character in society...she sinks wherever she is placed, like the yolk of an egg, to the bottom, and carries the filth with her.’ Byron, though, was forced to admit that Madame de Staël, a bluestocking who ran a hugely popular salon in Paris in the late 18th century, was the pre-eminent female writer of the age. In a backhanded compliment, he wrote: ‘She was a woman by herself, and has done more than all the rest of them, intellectually; she ought to have been a man.’

Catherine Macaulay (Robert Edge Pine, c.1775)

In the reactionary political environment that followed the French Revolution, women’s achievements in the previous century were swiftly written out of history and the term ‘bluestocking’ used ‘in a disparaging sense, to suggest a certain type of bookish and dowdy woman’. Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer Below: Breaking Up of the Blue Stocking Club (Thomas Rowlandson, 1815)



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Agenda 2013  

NTEU's annual women's magazine. Vol 21, September 2013

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