Agenda 2020

Page 1

NTEU WOMEN’S MAGAZINE

NTEU.ORG.AU/WOMEN

Gender stats 2020

Bluestocking Week 2020: Women, Work & COVID

Life in a pandemic for precariously employed women

Women bearing the brunt of COVID pain in higher education

We are Zoomed!

Bluestocking women tell their COVID stories

ISSN 1839-6194

Volume 28, September 2020


Women’s Action Committee (WAC) The role of the Women’s Action Committee is to: • 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. • To recommend action, and advise on issues affecting women. • To provide editorial advice on Agenda and the women’s website. • To inform members on industrial issues and policies that impact on women.

WAC 2020 Aca Academic staff representative G/P General/Professional staff representative

National Officers

• To make recommendations and provide advice to the National Executive, National Council, and Division Executive and Council on industrial, social and political issues affecting women. • Monitor and review the effectiveness of issues, policies and structures affecting women. WAC is chaired by the National President and is composed of one academic and one general/professional staff representative from each Division plus one nominee of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee.

Alison Barnes National President (Chair) Gabe Gooding National Assistant Secretary

A&TSI Rep Anna Strzelecki UniSA

ACT Aca Blair Williams UC G/P Jo Washington-King ANU

NSW Aca vacant G/P Julia McConnochie UTS

NT Aca Amanda Brain CDU G/P Sylvia Klonaris CDU

QLD Aca Lee Barnett CQU G/P Gwen Amankwah-Toa QUT

SA Aca Katie Barclay Adelaide G/P Cécile Dutreix UniSA

TAS

READ ONLINE @

nteu.org.au/agenda

Aca Nataliya Nikolova UTAS G/P Jenny Smith UTAS

VIC

Agenda ISSN 1839-6194 (online)

Aca Virginia Mansel Lees La Trobe G/P Karen Lamb ACU

Editor: Alison Barnes Production: Paul Clifton

WA

All text and images © NTEU 2020 unless otherwise noted.

Aca Suzanne Jenkins Notre Dame Australia G/P Corinna Worth Curtin

PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia

Editorial Assistance: Anastasia Kotaidis Published by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). ABN 38 579 396 344 Email: national@nteu.org.au

Phone: 03 9254 1910


NTEU WOMEN’S MAGAZINE

Cover: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

NTEU.ORG.AU/WOMEN Volume 28, September 2020 Australian Gender & Higher Education Stats 2020

Editorial

The average gender pay gap is now

14%

a rise of 1.6% since 2019

Women of letters

COVID-19

2

Median undergraduate starting salaries are 4.9% lower for women The gender gap in graduate median salaries is 9.4%

Alison Barnes, National President

Median superannuation balances at retirement are 21.6% lower for women

91.1%

15.4%

Architecture & Built Enviro

88.8% 44.5%

32.2%

News 58.7%

Year 12

Domestic students in higher education

Bachelor degree or above

All industries total renumeration pay gap is 24.2%

A sense of entitlement -4.2% 10.3%

Full-Time 20.8%

We are Zoomed!

Undergraduate gender pay gap by sector

Study & Qualifications

Part-Time

Casual

9.3%

Law & Paralegal Studies

7.3%

Psychology

7.1% 5.5%

Science And Mathematics

5.1%

Dentistry Median

4.9%

Humanities, Culture & Soc Sci

4.8%

Business & Management

4.0%

Health Services & Support

3.8%

Computing & Info Systems Engineering Teacher Education

A light-hearted look at the perils and pitfalls of working from home during lockdown whilst caring for young children.

8.8%

Creative Arts Agriculture & Enviro Studies

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2.5% 1.2% 1.2%

The sexual harassment case of Peter Rathvan, former University of Adelaide VC, whose actions reek of an entitled man.

Education & training sector total renumeration pay gap is 10.3% Full-Time 10.5%

Part-Time 20.6%

Casual 5.5%

Nursing

0.6%

Medicine

0.5%

Rehabilitation

Veterinary Science

Pharmacy

0.5%

0.2%

0.0%

Gender stats & higher education 2020 Women in the university workforce Social Work

Communications

4

-1.3%

-3.8%

We take our annual deep dive into employment and Postgraduate gender pay gap by sector education statistics with a gender lens. Additionally this year, we look at stats showing how COVID-19 is affecting women. 58% Teaching & Research

All staff

full time equiv.

Research Only

Teaching Only

17.4%

Agriculture & Enviro Studies

15.7%

Health Services & Support

44%

46%

14.4%

Median

59%

14.2%

Business & Management

12.9%

Communications

12.2%

Science & Mathematics

C B A Anna McCarron. Delegate & activist ACADEMICS by level, excluding casuals

Above Snr Lect Level D & E

Level C

Level B

Level A

10.8%

Law & Paralegal Studies

Creative Arts

10.3%

Psychology

9.8%

Architecture & Built Enviro

9.7%

7

32%

45%

52%

Engineering

8.6%

Rehabilitation

7.1%

Humanities, Culture & Soc Sci

female

10

5.3%

Nursing Teacher Education Computing & Info Systems

39 male

Medicine

5.2% 3.5% 3.2% 2.5%

Bluestocking Week Pharmacy

16

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the many fault lines in our higher education system. It is of no surprise that women are feeling the impact more acutely than their male counterparts.

Effect of COVID-19 on A&TSI females in precarious employment

18

The Government and indeed universities are using COVID-19 as an excuse to make the most vulnerable in our society more marginalised than ever before.

19

As the coronavirus spread around the world, it was obvious that women were expected to step up in the home and the workplace and take on an even greater share of caring work.

5.8%

Social Work

Vice-Chancellors

Women are bearing the brunt of COVID pain in higher education

More than just gender equity for a better future

We talk to UniSA member Anna McCarron about her role as a workplace delegate and NTEU activist. 25%

15

-9.0%

Resilient worlds of care

31 Aug–4 Sept nteu.org.au/bluestockingweek

Bluestocking Week 2020: Women, Work & COVID 9 The impact of COVID-19 on women in higher education was the theme for this year’s Bluestocking Week (31 August–4 September) now in its 8th consecutive year.

Our women & COVID

We know that women’s work is double that of men in the usual course of life, then along came COVID-19, and women’s work doubled again.

Just say No

21

Saying ‘No’ is an impossible task for a precariously employed woman.

11

International

During Bluestocking Week, a number of Queensland women members talked about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.

Women – the great illusion that we are invisible

20

A feminising perspective on belonging in capitalist spaces of precarity.

14 Visualising women’s representation

22

UN Women have created animated visualisations that take a closer look at gender imbalanced over time in various fields.

A country rallies to raise the number of women in science

24

The small African nation of Rwanda is working hard to encourage more women to study STEM subjects in higher education.

#ChallengeAccepted What did the B&W photo Instagram challenge really mean?

26


Editorial

Women of letters

Alison Barnes

NTEU National President

For Bluestocking Week each year, our South Australian Division hosts a dinner and fundraiser for the SA Working Women’s Centre, featuring guests speaking on topics ranging from climate change to educating workplaces about women’s need for support during periods of domestic violence. As the usual dinner couldn’t be held this year, we marked the week by inviting women to participate in a Women of Letters campaign, where union women write a short piece, or letter, talking about what education has meant to them, or their family, and how they see education as shaping their (or our) ability to respond to the environment created by COVID-19. Below is my personal contribution. Dear Sisters, As you may know, the Blue Stocking Society began as an informal association of women with the ‘revolutionary’ aspiration of discussing ideas beyond needlework or knitting.

I didn’t count on the way parenting – mothering – completely envelops your existence.

It was an early incubator of feminism. And while its participants never discussed anything as gauche as ‘politics’ they certainly supported each other in all manner of intellectual activity.

But of course it’s not about individuals. All of our structures – tax, welfare, workplace – are still built around the mother taking the role of primary caregiver in the early years of a child’s life.

They were renowned for openness and informality.

And we know how this cascades through our professional lives.

Hence the name – blue stockings were considered informal ‘day wear’ in the 1750s.

In universities, we also seem to take on more of the ‘caring’ responsibilities.

I suspect they would turn in their grave if they knew what informal wear was today – in the age of COVID-19 lockdown. Tracksuits probably wouldn’t cut it. But I digress. Perhaps more interesting is what these early agitators might make of women’s progress today, more than 270 years on. Whether their hopes and aspirations tally with the world of today. I suspect not. In fact I suspect that’s true of everyone joining this discussion today. Women do march forward, but the pace of change is underwhelming.

Women, by and large, have larger teaching loads, and are in the majority in student support services. At peak moments such as exams and essays, we are deluged with requests. Dealing with the needs of students can become a minute to minute proposition. Yet even here, systemic sexism pervades our working lives, with women academics trying to squeeze in research and publication while shouldering not only teaching and admin, but lives as carers too. The pressure is not unique though, with women in professional, general and technical roles squeezed by workload pressures as well as a lack of opportunities for career progression.

It’s certainly been my experience.

It is also women who most often bear the brunt of redundancies.

Prior to maternity leave I had my most successful year of writing articles for journals.

At the same time this collides with our caring responsibilities outside the workplace.

And I naively assumed this could continue while I seamlessly incorporated care for an infant into my busy life. I thought I could bash out some fresh research while the baby was sleeping. That

2

searing insights would haunt me throughout my year of maternity leave as I took a sleepless Madeleine for walks.

Small wonder that we are published less often, earn smaller incomes, and receive fewer promotions. Indeed, both academic and professional/general staff women dominate the lower levels, even though higher education is a feminised industry.

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is exacerbating these negative trends. We are well on our way to the loss of more than 20 thousand jobs in higher education. And women are impacted more than men when universities cut jobs. Casual and contract positions always go first. And the emphasis is always on professional/general areas. Of course women are over-represented in all these categories. When you combine this with the increased burden of caring duties in lock down and higher economic stress, women are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. And we are of course more exposed than ever to intimate partner and domestic violence. All of this comes as the latest data shows an increase in the gender pay gap to 14%, with women earning $253.60 a week less than men. The experience of women working in higher education is felt across the economy. More Australian women than men have lost jobs in this pandemic as feminised and insecure areas such as retail, hospitality, cleaning and other services quickly shed jobs. It’s also no surprise that the health and safety of women has been more compromised serving as we do on the frontline of ‘essential services’ – such as health, aged care, disability services, teaching and food retail. So while a crisis demands we triage our concerns, we must not forget that the progress of women is also essential. It’s not a luxury or some sort of expendable frippery, but a core principle that must be at the very centre of political and social debate and struggle. Alison Barnes is NTEU National President and editor of Agenda. abarnes@nteu.org.au


News

A sense of entitlement

Kelly Thomas

Senior Legal Officer

Earlier in 2020, we heard of the shock departure of the University of Adelaide’s Chancellor, Kevin Scarce, as well as the absence of its Vice-Chancellor, Peter Rathjen, due to illness. With the release of The Hon. Bruce Lander’s Statement about an Investigation, the actual events have now been unveiled. Rathjen’s actions reek of an entitled man. He engaged in sexual harassment against two women at the same work function – a University function – which had lasting consequences for those two women. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found that he deliberately engaged in this conduct, which was of a sexual nature and to which the women did not consent. Imagining his behaviour is sickening: because so many women have experienced that entitled, privileged and uninhibited behaviour by men. The kind where they act with disregard for anyone else’s feelings because they can. Because the power imbalance that so often appears in workplaces, in work relationships, undercuts the notion of consent.

50s – showing that sexual harassment can happen to anyone. The Court, horrified, stated: ‘He now appeals to this Court. His points are three. First, the evidence did not support the conclusion that he had sexually harassed the Respondent because he was to be seen as being – and this was the actual submission – like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.’ My skin is crawling again with the idea that men – and it is mainly men – have this sense of entitlement not only over women, but also when dealing with allegations like these. Rathjen felt like, and did, lie to the Chancellor and to the ICAC. He did that because he thought he would get away with it. found the

“I have As we found out through the ICAC’s Statement, Rathjen apparently has form in this area. Which is why the other element of the ICAC’s Vice-Chancellor lied While the University of Adelaide was report is most troubling. As was reported to the Chancellor on three undertaking its investigations, Rathjen in relation to Heydon, there seems to be occasions. received allegations of sexual harassment or a protection racket going on around this abuse that allegedly occurred while he was behaviour. In Rathjen’s case, one of the He lied in his evidence to me. employed at the University of Melbourne. victims made a complaint and the University The University of Melbourne has now sought external legal advice. That legal I have found that he has passed the report into those allegations to the advice was in effect driven at protecting lied when it suited him ICAC, and Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell Rathjen’s reputation. The advice was for the to do so.’ announced to staff that he remained ‘determined Chancellor to have a chat with Rathjen. That to stamp out sexual assault and harassment’, all but occurred, and Rathjen admitted his behaviour. confirming that Rathjen’s latest complainant was right in But it was never reported to the University Council coming forward. – Rathjen’s employer – giving rise to circumstances where victimisation could flourish. The ICAC’s report is not critical of the The University of Tasmania, another of Rathjen’s former employers, Chancellor – he was following legal advice – but it is critical of the has reached out as well – advising that any complaint would be legal advice given. investigated. Because that is so often how a culture of sexual harassment At this point, all of Rathjen’s victims have wanted to remain continues. When a brave woman stands up, she is embroiled in a anonymous. And that is entirely understandable. No doubt the secretive investigation where she must suffer humiliating questioning women are keen to ensure that they have ongoing careers in their and attacks on her character while the perpetrator continues at chosen fields and don’t want to be associated with such events. large. All the while employers hire top gun lawyers so they can They no doubt wished it never happened to them. I have a message rely on legal professional privilege and non-disclosure agreements for you, if you’re reading this: good on you. Good on you for to never let this culture and conduct see the light of day. I’m not stepping forward, at great personal risk and at great personal suggesting we disregard procedural fairness, but the structures expense. Thank you for reporting this so that no one else will undoubtedly support perpetrators. experience his behaviour. Thank you for once again shining a light on sexual harassment which is, unfortunately prevalent in every Fortunately, there is good work happening. Kate Jenkins, the Sex industry, but shouldn’t exist in the higher education sector. Discrimination Commissioner released her Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report earlier this year – unfortunately And it isn’t just higher education: it is everywhere. Former High losing airtime to the global pandemic, but which requires closer Court judge Dyson Heydon has fallen from grace following an attention. The ACTU has also joined up with the AHRC and ACCI to investigation into his conduct which spanned many years during release the Know the Line campaign. Because it is too important for which he traded on his powerful role. His actions cost the futures of all women to have the greatest chance at success at work and for young women who entrusted him with guiding them into the legal men to stop thinking it is okay to harass women. profession. The Federal Court also recently threw out an appeal by a lawyer who sexually harassed his paralegal – a woman in her Above: Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (2005) VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

3


Stats Terri MacDonald

Gender & higher education stats 2020

Policy & Research Officer

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Australia’s national gender pay gap as of August 2020 is 14%, reflecting that, on average, women need to work an additional 59 days to earn the same as male counterparts. The gender pay gap (GPG) favours men across all industries and all levels of the workforce (highest in financial services, real estate and construction), and the full-time average weekly earnings for women are $253.60 less than for men.

Education and the gender pay gap Of all women aged 20-24, 91.1% have attained year 12 qualifications or above, compared to 88.8% of men in the same age bracket. Of all women aged 25-29, 44.5% have achieved a bachelor degree or above, compared to 32.2% of similarlyaged men. Women represent 58.7% of domestic students in universities or other institutions. This has risen from 57.6% in 2007.

Higher education workforce For those working in tertiary education the total remuneration pay gap is half that for all industries. Our sector is 58% women and 42% men, compared to 50/50 for all industries.

Graduate gender pay gap The 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey has found that high level undergraduate labour market outcomes are broadly similar for males and females, with the notable exception that female graduates earn less than male graduates. In 2017, the gender gap in graduate median salaries was $2,600 or 4.3%. In 2020, for the same cohort of graduates three years later, the gender gap in graduate median salaries had increased to $6,900 or 9.4%. Previous research suggests that one of the key factors contributing to the gender gap in salaries is that females tend to graduate from fields of education that achieve lower salaries (e.g. Creative Arts) whereas males tend to graduate from more highly remunerated fields (e.g. Engineering).

However, female graduates often earn less than male graduates within the While higher education is same field of education. For feminised, the more senior example, undergraduate the level, the greater the study areas with large proportion of men, with gender gaps in salaries The gender gap only 25% of women three years out include in salaries among at a level above senior Architecture and Built lecturer. Environment, Health postgraduate coursework Services and Support, graduates persists across WGEA headcount Social Work, Nursing, figures reveal that all study areas... and Business and 51% of Level A staff are Management. women. However, this is likely to be under estimated, There are some exceptions as casual/sessional staff are where females are paid more usually appointed at Level A, and are than males such as in Creative Arts, not included in the Government’s FTE data at 4%. There are also some study areas with on levels. no, or very little gender gap in salaries such as Computing and Information Systems, The number of women Vice-Chancellors where salaries are equal; Engineering, at Australia’s 39 public universities has where males are paid 1% more than dropped by one since last year, to ten in females three years after graduation. 2020.

4

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

Postgraduate gender pay gap The gender gap in salaries is more pronounced at postgraduate coursework level than for undergraduates. In 2017, four to six months after completion of their studies, the median salary of male postgraduate coursework graduates was $15,900 or 16.9% higher than females. In 2020, this gap has increased to $17,200 in dollar terms, which represents 15.8% of the full-time median female salary, three years after graduation. The gender gap in salaries among postgraduate coursework graduates persists across all study areas, in particular, in Medicine, Business and Management, Health Services & Support and Science and Mathematics, with gender pay gaps in excess of 15% three years after course completion. This is likely due to a range of factors such as occupation, age, experience, personal factors and possible inequalities within workplaces. continued on p.7...


Stats

Australian Gender & Higher Education Stats 2020 The average gender pay gap is now

14%

a rise of 1.6% since 2019

Median undergraduate starting salaries are 4.9% lower for women The gender gap in graduate median salaries is 9.4% Median superannuation balances at retirement are 21.6% lower for women Undergraduate gender pay gap by sector

Study & Qualifications 91.1%

Year 12

Domestic students in higher education

All industries total renumeration pay gap is 24.2% Part-Time -4.2%

Casual 10.3%

Education & training sector total renumeration pay gap is 10.3% Full-Time 10.5%

7.3%

Psychology

Bachelor degree or above

Full-Time 20.8%

8.8%

Creative Arts

32.2%

58.7%

Part-Time 20.6%

Casual 5.5%

Teaching & Research

Research Only

Teaching Only

44%

46%

59%

5.5%

Science And Mathematics Dentistry

5.1%

Median

4.9%

Humanities, Culture & Soc Sci

4.8%

Business & Management

4.0%

Health Services & Support Computing & Info Systems

3.8% 2.5%

Engineering

1.2%

Teacher Education

1.2%

Nursing

0.6%

Medicine

0.5%

Rehabilitation

0.5%

Veterinary Science

0.2%

Pharmacy Communications

Women in the university workforce

7.1%

Agriculture & Enviro Studies

Social Work

All staff

9.3%

Law & Paralegal Studies

44.5%

full time equiv.

15.4%

Architecture & Built Enviro

88.8%

0.0% -1.3% -3.8%

Postgraduate gender pay gap by sector 17.4%

Agriculture & Enviro Studies

15.7%

Health Services & Support

58%

14.4%

Median

14.2%

Business & Management

12.9%

Communications

ACADEMICS by level, excluding casuals

Above Snr Lect Level D & E

C

Level C

B

Level B

12.2%

Science & Mathematics

A

Level A

10.8%

Law & Paralegal Studies Creative Arts

10.3%

Psychology

25%

32%

45%

52%

9.8%

Architecture & Built Enviro

9.7%

Engineering

8.6%

Rehabilitation

7.1%

Humanities, Culture & Soc Sci

Vice-Chancellors female

10

39 male

5.8%

Social Work

5.3%

Nursing

5.2%

Teacher Education

3.5%

Computing & Info Systems

3.2%

Medicine Pharmacy

2.5% -9.0%

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

5


Stats

Gender & higher education stats 2020 ...continued from p.5

Gender impact of COVID Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) workforce figures show that, to date, job losses have impacted men and women quite differently. Overall employment was down by 7.5% between 14 March and 18 April. Female employment dropped by 8.1%, male employment dropped by 6.2%. In terms of working hours, women lost 11.5% of the hours worked in March, compared to men who lost 7.5% In June, the labour force participation rate fell by 2.5 percentage points. The impact has been greater on women with an extra 2.9% of women out of the labour force compared to an extra 2.1% of men. Younger women have been disproportionately affected in terms of job losses. ABS data on payroll shows that employment fell by 18% for women under the age of 20 years, compared with 13% of men under 20 years.

Between March & April 2020, overall employment was down

7.5%

Women are over-represented in the industries most affected by the COVID19 pandemic including food and accommodation services, the arts and recreation fields, education and health services. Three-quarters of health professionals, including pharmacists and medical scientists – many of whom were deemed to be essential services – are women. Women are over-represented in casual and short-term contract employment, especially in higher education (1.5 times more likely to be insecurely employed). Women are more likely to be over-represented in those ineligible to receive JobKeeper as they often work in short-term roles for less than 12 months. In higher education, the impact is two-fold as university workers are ineligible for the JobKeeper subsidy. Women are also overrepresented in job losses in non-academic areas.

In June, the labour force participation rate fell by

2.5%

According to preliminary data, women have eroded their superannuation balances more than men, the ramifications of which will compound over time and seriously undermine their financial security in retirement. Sources: Women in University workforce 2018 (Dept of Education and Training); NTEU analysis from Dept of Education and Training Data cube (2019); QILT survey program, including the 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal (GOS-L), reported in 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal (GOS-L) Medium-term graduate outcomes report, Aug 2020. Social Research Centre (funded by DESE); Financial Standard, Super release widens gender gap: AMP, Ally Selby, 29 May 2020; Covid-19 early release scheme, 11 May 2020, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Australians who have accessed their superannuation

19%

17%

2.1%

6.2%

Overall employment reduction

The Morrison Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 controversially included allowing workers to withdraw up to $10,000 from their superannuation accounts in the June quarter 2020 and a further $10,000 during the September quarter 2020.

21%

2.9%

8.1%

The super gap gets worse

Labour force participation

Withdrawn starting superannuation balances

11.5%

18% 13%

7.5%

14% 12%

Employment reduction for people under 20 years old

6

Working hours lost in March

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

Emptied total superannuation savings


Activism

Anna McCarron. Delegate & activist Anna McCarron is an NTEU workplace delegate and activist at the University of South Australia (UniSA). Agenda spoke to her about her role in 2020.

Where do you work and what do you do? I commenced work at UniSA in 2009 as part of the graduate program. Since then I have worked within Academic Units, the Student Engagement Unit and the Hawke Centre in varying marketing roles. For the last four years I have worked in Digital Marketing within the International Unit. I am an alumnus of UniSA having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Media Management) in 2008. I also obtained a Master of Public Relations from USQ in 2012.

Why did you become an NTEU delegate/ activist? It is really in my genes! My grandfather was on elected union committees for at least 35 years and instilled in me many of the values that unionists hold dear. My brother has also acted within various positions at the NTEU and, after learning about all the valuable work that is being done within the movement, I felt the need to do more.

What do you enjoy most about being an NTEU delegate/activist?

What campaigns are you involved with at the moment in your Branch? And why is it important? I have recently been working with our campaigns committee on a strategy to encourage UniSA leadership to partner with the Union and put pressure on Dan Tehan and the Federal Government to not cut university funding. In addition, our local Branch is continuing to lobby local MPs and pressure them to block this bill. I feel that this is such an important campaign. Universities around Australia are financially struggling thanks to the Government’s lack of support during the COVID-19 pandemic and to put further pressure on us is wrong. On a personal level, I don’t want to imagine a future where my children have to choose a degree because it is affordable instead of choosing one they have an interest in.

In my day to day work I rarely interact with the academics that teach our students. My involvement with the Union allows me to build closer relationships with them. It allows me to learn about the issues that affect them as I only see the university from one perspective. In addition, it is very rewarding to hear the stories of how we have made a difference to people’s lives through our activism.

What would you say to others looking at possibly nominating as a delegate/activist and becoming active in their Branch? I would say it is a worthwhile experience and a fantastic way to meet people who are so passionate. If there is a time to become an activist, it is now. As Australia enters its first recession in decades, we need to work harder than ever to protect our rights and protect our jobs as universities continue to be neglected by the Government!

NATIONAL TERTIARY EDUCATION UNION

Become an NTEU

Delegate!

Delegates

D E L E G AT E S . N T E U. O R G . AU

Delegates are a vital part of the NTEU, maintaining visibility, supporting recruitment & building the strength of the Union. If you’re interested in becoming a Delegate in your work area, contact your Branch today. VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

7


Bluestocking Week

WOMEN WORK & COVID 31 Aug–4 Sept nteu.org.au/bluestockingweek 8

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020


Bluestocking Week Helena Spyrou

Education & Training Organiser

Bluestocking Week 2020

Women, Work & COVID

The impact of COVID-19 on women in higher education was the theme for this year’s Bluestocking Week (31 August–4 September) now in its 8th consecutive year. The Australian higher education sector has been and is in crisis. The high level of insecure employment and the inequalities that women in particular experience were there long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The challenges faced by women right now are intensified as our work, community and caring responsibilities collide in this time of crisis. With mass redundancies, a growing gender pay gap, insecure work, and an antagonistic Federal Government, Bluestocking Week 2020 has focused not only on recognising, applauding and celebrating women in higher education but also on encouraging all members to work together to build a better working life on the other side of the crisis for women in higher education. This year, in the time of coronavirus, has been challenging for all in the sector with the vast majority working off-campus for months and many, like our colleagues in Victoria, still doing so. Despite the limitations presented, Branches and Divisions still held Bluestocking Week events – some small, some not so small, some on campus, most online. There were petitions, songs, discussions and cupcakes.

Above: Former federal ALP MP for Longman, former official with the United Workers’ Union, and now Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at QUT, Susan Lamb, spoke at the Qld Bluestocking Week event on why ‘Politics Matters’, how unionism and politics has improved the lot of women workers in Australia. Below: Traditional Bluestocking cupcakes on offer in Darwin this year.

Here are some highlights of the events held across the country.

SA Division Acknowledging how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women and how the Federal Government’s funding proposals will have a negative impact on vulnerable and insecure workers at universities, the SA Division ran a number of small events during Bluestocking week. Together with the student union, members participated in feminist conversations and cupcakes. Being able to congregate on campus, the Division also saw this week as an opportunity to talk with members about the importance of blocking the Tehan Higher Education Support Amendment (Jobs-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020. The Division also initiated a Women of Letters project asking 30 women to write a letter about what education means to them and how COVID-19 has affected their lives and their work. The letters will be collated in a PDF and will be posted on the NTEU SA Division page in early October, so keep an eye out at www.nteu.org.au/sa. In mid-October, the SA Division WAC, are planning a cocktail hour/ seminar in honour of Bluestockings and will include women from the Australian Black Lives Matter/Deaths in Custody movement as speakers. This event will also be a fundraiser for SA women’s support services. continued overpage...

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Bluestocking Week

Above: Cheryl Baldwin, Cécile Dutreix, Juliet Fuller and Jess Jacobson on the Barr Smith Library stairs at the University of Adelaide.

NT Division Charles Darwin University (CDU) celebrated Bluestocking Week with a live stream seminar. It highlighted the impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many women in higher education who have been simultaneously working from home, caring for children (and, for many, their partners) and dealing with excessive workloads, all whilst undergoing university restructures and mergers. Speakers Amanda Brain and Sylvia Klonaris highlighted the challenges women are facing, and how we can stay healthy. This was followed by a light lunch (and cupcakes).

Queensland Division During Bluestocking Week, Queensland Division invited NTEU woman members to write a short piece on the impact of COVID19 on their lives (see pp.11–13) which were sent in a daily Meet a Member email to all Qld members. The Division also held a trivia quiz and an eclectic Division-wide Zoom event called ‘Politics Matters’. This event was an information session and celebration of why women join unions. Susan Lamb (Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at QUT) provided the key note address. The event was bookended by a group sing along, lead by Sue Monk, of the famous suffragette political slogan and consequent poem and song, Bread and Roses and Helen Reddy’s iconic 1970s anthem for the feminist movement I am Woman.

National Seminar

Above: National President Alison Barnes Zoomed into the CDU Bluestocking Week live seminar from lockdown in Melbourne. Janine Oldfield from Batchelor, a member of the Women’s Network Group of the NT Division, opened the event with acknowledgment to Traditional Custodians of the region, the Larrakeyah People.

Bluestocking Week culminated in a national seminar on Women, Work & COVID-19. Over 300 members attended via Zoom. NTEU National President, Alison Barnes, set the context and introduced the two special guest speakers Professor Rae Cooper (Gender, Work and Employment Relations and Co-Director of the Women, Work & Leadership Research Group) and Sarah Mosseri (Postdoctoral Research Associate in Work and Organisational Studies). Rae and Sarah, both from the University of Sydney Business School, spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on women. They highlighted how many of the gendered inequalities that existed in the pre-COVID-19 world of work have now been exacerbated by the pandemic and how, in both paid and unpaid work, women are disproportionately experiencing the impact of the pandemic, resulting in a widening of the economic gap between men and women.

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Above, L–R: NTEU Industrial Officer, Noeline Rudland, Retired NTEU Griffith member and Emma Miller Award recipient, Sue Monk, and USQ Organiser, Patsy O’Brien started the Bluestocking Week meeting with a rendition of ‘Bread & Roses’, a song inspired by a quote from women’s suffrage activist Helen Todd.


Bluestocking Week

Our women & COVID During Bluestocking Week, our Queensland Division sent members a daily email featuring one member a day talking of the impact of COVID-19 on them. COVID-19 has turned the world as we knew it on its head; the impact on women and on work has been immense. The NTEU recognises, applauds and celebrates all women employed in higher education and never more so than in these turbulent and uncertain times. You might see yourself reflected in their stories.

Ashleigh McGaw

Tessa Rixon

University of Southern Queensland

Queensland University of Technology

As a professional staff member, the idea of working from home had always appealed to me but I had never had the opportunity or need to. I returned to work from maternity leave in the middle of lockdown and started working from home straight away.

I lecture into the BFA Technical Production course within QUT’s School of Creative Practice, and the reduction of face-to-face teaching has been a huge hurdle for my students and me over this past year. Our students usually go through a range of hands-on workshops and labs, all of which had to shift online in Semester 1.

While there were initial teething problems – daily frustration with using collaboration software like Microsoft Teams; the uncertainty of just what, exactly, has changed or stayed the same during my time away; virtually supervising a team, most of whom, I have never met in person before; and the constant internal dialogue around keeping away from the fridge and pantry – I slowly got into the ‘swing’ of working from home. I am now at a point where I love it, and I have been much more productive and focussed. Working from home has allowed me to easily transition back into the workforce after extended leave. It also allows me to spend more time with my family and doing the things that I love. Many of my colleagues have also experienced positive benefits from Working working from home. I have since returned to campus, with mixed feelings. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we, as professional staff, can perform our job from home, and keep the tertiary sector humming along. So why not make it a more permanent option for professional staff across the sector? With the support of the NTEU and its members, we can prove that we can work productively, efficiently, and safely from home.

We managed to come up with some innovative ways of keeping their training going – making use of visualisation software, 3D designs and more – but it’s been difficult to stay true to the experience and the learning we want to give the students. Fortunately due to our smaller sizes we’re mostly back in the studios this semester, but the restricted hours, budgets and workloads we’re all experiencing adds to the strain of teaching whilst also trying to catch-up on the first half of the year.

from home has allowed me to easily transition back into the workforce after extended leave. It also allows me to spend more time with my family and doing the things that I love.

Overall, we’re trying to offer the best experiences we can in the limited time we have, and provide support and inspiration to the students as they slog their way through 2020.

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Bluestocking Week

Debbie Woodbridge Griffith University Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee Member Much like all women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women work. For a long time, this work has gone underpaid or unpaid. Much of the unpaid work for Aboriginal women is similar for all women. However, Indigenous women have this added layer because of their cultural identity. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are parents, they are rearing their children, managing households, families and in everincreasing instances they are also in paid employment. On top of this Aboriginal women are working to care for their extended families, they are providing unpaid care to community members and unpaid community work to preserve culture. Over the past hundred years, Aboriginal women have had growing involvement with unions in the fight for their rights. Before the 1967 referendum, Aboriginal women were pushed into unpaid employment or had their pays held in trust which were often never paid. These arrangements For those who have been much like indentured servitude as part of the assimilation policies of the day. remain in work, working From around the 1930s, Aboriginal women joined various democratic unions. The from home results in less union movement provided us with a platform to fight for our rights and a better deal for demarcation between work Aboriginal women generally. These include Aboriginal women having the right to work and earn a living wage, provisions which allowed for cultural obligations, the right to and family/home life for women take on more meaningful and professional work, and the right to have a voice and lead generally but for Aboriginal and workplaces and communities. Some Indigenous communities are matriarchal, and the women are the power brokers such as with the Wiradjuri where I come from. Unions have played an important role in supporting Aboriginal women in this fight, especially the NTEU which has one of the highest memberships of Indigenous peoples in the country. Aboriginal women are also well represented in this data.

Torres Strait Islander women there is even less separation between work, family, community obligations and cultural obligations.

From early March, my colleagues and I started preparing to work from home. Then Queensland schools ‘closed’ to children except those whose parents were deemed to be essential workers. The Prime Minister then announced that any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is over 50 years of age and can work from home, should work from home. The day after this, the 31st March, was the first day of working from home for my workplace. It was a foreign concept and not the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interact which is generally face-to-face. Many of us did not know how some of the students would cope with this change. Many casuals and workers on fixed-term contracts lost their jobs including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are more likely to be in casual and fixed-term employment. For those who remain in work, working from home results in less demarcation between work and family/home life for women generally but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women there is even less separation between work, family, community obligations and cultural obligations. Aboriginal women have this extra layer of responsibility due to this intersection between race and gender. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the carers, they are also the ones at the front line insuring that COVID-19 does not spread throughout Aboriginal communities across the country. Many have to make the decisions about closing communities and keeping COVID-19 out. Another impact is having to work from home. Many Indigenous women were already working at home because of family commitments and cultural obligations. Many also have the care of their grandchildren and /or children from their extended family. In many instances, these children would go into state care if it wasn’t for the tireless efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s work. Now, I am in the process of preparing to return to campus and hope that from here we keep moving in a positive direction so we can get back to face-to-face service delivery.

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Bluestocking Week

Gabriella Wilson

Kerry Taylor-Leech

Griffith University

Griffith University

There is a child who needs their mum’s constant attention, there are two demanding rescue dogs, one of which has been diagnosed with cancer. There is a husband who also works in the higher education sector and is slowly sinking into depression, a mother over seventy who works in the higher education sector and lonely in isolation. Immunocompromised in-laws, a PhD which is very anxiously neglected, a casual job that’s looking even more precarious, gruelling online daily tutorials and meetings, and mental health that just seems to be deteriorating. In the background of all of this is climate change and the onset of the sixth mass extinction. These are the things that have surrounded (drowned) me during COVID-19.

Like many people, I now see I was simply sleepwalking at the start of this pandemic. I underestimated the nature of the COVID-19 virus and was quite ignorant of the implications of a lockdown. As I watched in horror at developments in China, Italy, Brazil, the US and UK, and two of my friends lost parents, the reality started to sink in. With an ageing mother locked down in the UK and my three adult children all working in precarious jobs in different Australian states, I feel pulled in multiple directions as I try to support them. Social isolation is the worst possible thing for my mother, who has dementia.

Working at Griffith during this time has been both pleasurable and painful under these circumstances. I know millions of other Australians have been balancing the extreme pressures of life in lock down too. The pleasure of my work comes from dedicated colleagues, eager students, the knowledge we craft and the minds we inspire. That’s why we’re there right? Because of the importance and pleasure of research, teaching and relationships. And to receive fair pay for fair work.

When lockdown was announced, my sessional tutor and I worked frantically to get our course materials into an online format and we did it in a matter of My tutor is a shining days. We attended workshops but example of the value basically trained each other in the sessional staff bring to the use of Collaborate and Teams. My university. I could not do the tutor is a shining example of the value sessional staff bring to the work I’m doing without her help university. I could not do the work and the goodwill of my loyal I’m doing without her help and the sessional tutors, all of whom goodwill of my loyal sessional tutors, are women. all of whom are women.

My disappointment and pain has come from watching senior staff experience increasing levels of pressure and stress, with often no way to help them because of my own workload and precarity. To add to my dismay, I have watched management chip away and then cease negotiations with the Union. Vital negotiations carried out to save jobs, and people’s livelihoods. I’ve also been devastated to watch the current Federal Government completely gut our sector. Higher education in Australia is the lifeblood of this nation and a leader in innovation and critical thinking. I was protesting funding cuts to universities in the 90s. Perhaps the time has come to stand together, united once more in our common goal for a well-funded sector, job security, and accessible education for all. As my sign said at those protests. ‘Only the Educated are Free’ – Epictetus.

On the research side, I battled on with writing papers and an external grant application, telling myself that if everything comes good next year, we’ll be able to make the research happen. I’ve worked through my leave to keep up with my research and teaching. Recently, I have found myself showing symptoms of burnout and sitting in meetings stuck on mute, restricted only to asking questions on the chat function, is very disempowering. On the plus side, my students have been amazing. I truly appreciate their humour, patience, tenacity and resilience. And I’m proud to belong to a union that is fighting to present an alternative to divisive management decisions and the heavy handedness of the Morrison Government. It is helping me make it through. I know I’ll come through this a stronger person. To end on a cheerful note, Zoom cocktails with family and friends have been a godsend and will probably stay on as a fixture in my household.

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Bluestocking Week Virginia Mansel Lees

Women & the great illusion that we are invisible

La Trobe University

Bluestocking Week is always a time for us to re-connect with our roots and to think about the women who went before us and the difficulties they faced in being able to access a university education. For many, their finished work was taken from them and credited to their male counterparts, which must have been so frustrating. Even with this being an artefact of higher education they never gave up. I am immensely proud of what they did, it created a lasting legacy for all of us. I am a first in family that happily was able to access higher education because of the Whitlam changes to fees – an unintended consequence that still brings a smile to my face. The panel for our Bluestocking Week event was stimulating and hearing of the research being undertaken around all aspects of women in the workforce was certainly thought-provoking. So much has been done with so much still to be changed would be the take-out from the panellists’ combined discussion. Perhaps most telling was the underrepresentation of women because of the continued occupational and industry segregation our country faces. Even more irritating is that, although Australia in 2020 had the highest representation of women in the labour market, it did not mean what it could/should have and demonstrates that we have a long way to go before there is parity for women so they do not have to engage in precarious and/or low paid work. When will we experience the world of work where there would be mandated ways in which family, caring responsibilities become an integral part of the working day and not an add on at the behest of a benevolent employer? We know that women’s work is double that of men in the usual course of life, then along came COVID-19, and women’s work doubled again. Hard to imagine that is even possible, but it is and that in and of itself demonstrates that women provide the ‘glue’ that holds so much of our society together.

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The number of students that I teach who dropped subjects so they could continue their caring responsibilities as well as add new and more problematic elements to their lives was really noticeable. Again, it will be women who will take longer to complete their qualifications and continue to be engaged in lower paid work with fewer opportunities. As unionists we must ensure that this does not mean that our students are unable to graduate. Graduation will offer them both opportunities, as well as certainty in their working lives, and we must make every effort to support them through challenging university hierarchies to take account of their circumstances. Throughout the pandemic women have been (as they always do) diversifying their talents to ensure that everything continues to run as smoothly as is possible. Disappointingly, women again are missing out as many areas that are considered women’s work have not been allowed to open back up so they can begin to operate. Once again men’s work has been opened up disproportionately to that of women. This simply is unacceptable, how will there ever be significant change to the lives of working women, when even a pandemic was able to close the door on them?

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What all of this does is to drive inequality, that entrenches disadvantage for those already in the workforce and ensures that those wanting to enter face a series of barriers (mostly artificial) that won’t go away. For young women hope for a future in which they are able to determine where and how they work must seem unattainable. As our panellists pointed out, the future of work is consistently framed around the use of robots and never around women and work. The next part of our struggle must then focus on how we can have women work front and centre, so that our combined invisibility takes a permanent back seat. Join us to stop the illusion that we do not exist in the eyes of those who make decisions about us, not for or with us. In union we will fight. United we will win. Image: Bench Accounting/Unsplash


COVID-19

We are Zoomed! As I dash down the hallway holding my laptop out of reach of sticky little fingers, I think how I used to spend the ten minutes between 1pm and the tutorial start time of 1:10pm casually chatting to students about their weekends and answering assessment questions. This ‘normal’ tutorial life feels like a distant memory. Three weeks into a pandemic lockdown, and tutorials now resemble a Brady Bunch collage. That’s if I can convince them to please turn their videos on. Otherwise I’m teaching rows and columns of broken TV monitors, a muted brick wall of grey non-responses. We’re not doomed, we’re Zoomed.

I fumble with the remote trying to find Bluey on the ABC iView app.

I shut my spare bedroom door behind me, grateful my toddlers can’t reach the handle. My heart aches for childcare, blissful childcare. As I plug my laptop into the charger and position my webcam, I realise my headphones are missing. I have three minutes before the tutorial begins. I see my email ping to let me know there are students waiting in the Zoom room.

I take a deep breath. There are people far worse off than me. There are people sick, or with health conditions who are scared to get sick. There are people dying. I still have a job. Many aren’t as lucky as me. I can work from home. Sort of. I take a deep breath.

Do I have time to look for my headphones or should I just start without them? I take the risk and go back out into the chaos of the living room, sneaking past children who are watching their fifteenth episode of Paw Patrol since lunchtime. I scramble through my handbag looking for my headphones. ‘Mummy! I want another rice cracker!’

‘Not that episode! The one where they go to the dump! The other one! The other one!’

My tired, anxious reflection stares back at me, giving me half a second to run my fingers through my unbrushed hair before my students see me entering the Zoom classroom. I paste a smile on my face which feels younger child more like a grimace.

My younger child starts swiping at the TV, wailing because I’ve turned off Paw Patrol. I can sense a meltdown about to begin. Mine, not hers.

My starts swiping at the TV, wailing because I’ve turned off Paw Patrol. I can sense a meltdown about to begin. Mine, not hers.

‘There, Bluey is on. Now, Mummy has a class starting. I am going to shut the door and I don’t want any interruptions. If you’re good for the next 1 hour and 50 minutes, Daddy will bring you home a Kinder egg from the supermarket’.

‘Not that one! That one’s slobbered on! Mummy! Can you put Bluey on instead!?’

Daddy works for an essential business so lucky Daddy has to go to work. Grandma can’t help as we can’t risk her getting sick. The children weigh up the bribe and shrug in acceptance, eyes glued to the TV.

‘Mummy has a class! They’re waiting for me right now! You know where the rice crackers are!’

I bolt back into my semi-soundproof sanctuary and notice the bed is unmade. I spend the last 10 seconds I have hurriedly

I spot a half-chewed rice cracker sitting on a pile of Lego. I lob it in the child’s direction.

tidying it while kicking some toys out of view of the camera. I untangle my headphones while plugging them into my laptop and opening the Zoom app.

One of my students has children wandering around in the background. She starts talking but I can’t hear her. ‘Turn your microphone on!’ I laugh. She facepalms and apologises that her kids are distracting. I tell her not to worry. We all know what each other is going through. ‘The show must go on’, I say. And the show does go on. This article was written by an NTEU member. It was originally published in the September 2020 issue of Connect (vol. 13, no. 2), NTEU’s magazine for casual members. Image: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

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COVID-19

Women are bearing the brunt of COVID pain in higher ed

Terri MacDonald

Policy & Research Officer

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the many fault lines in our higher education system. An inadequate funding system has left universities overly reliant on international student fee income, whilst at the same time creating a culture of corporatisation. University Vice-Chancellors and senior executives – roles dominated by men – are earning exorbitant incomes, while much of lower level teaching and research is undertaken by insecurely employed staff, most of whom are women. As the COVID-19 crisis lays bare inherent structural gender inequalities, it is of no surprise that women in higher education – just as in the broader economy – are feeling the impact more acutely than their male counterparts.

Feminised & precarious Universities are a feminised work sector where women now make up around 58% of staff. Consequently, women experience high levels of insecure employment. The NTEU has projected that around 30,000 jobs are at risk in higher education, with the majority of these being casual/sessional teachers, professional/general staff, and researchers on rolling contracts. These massive job losses are a result of both the COVID-19 crisis and the refusal of the Federal Government to assist in any way. Indeed, the NTEU’s analysis has found that the Government’s Jobs-Ready Graduate package will not save one single job or provide the sector with any additional funding, even though we are currently faced with the greatest crisis the sector has seen. Instead, the Government’s plans will increase the financial burden on students, require universities to teach more students for less funding per student overall, and drive up even further insecure employment and workloads. While this will be felt across that sector, the NTEU’s experience is that women in higher education are impacted disproportionally when universities cut jobs. Moreover, with many universities targeting professional and sessional staff where women dominate, precarious employment is also a go-to lever for university management who want to reduce staffing expenses.

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According to Universities Australia, women are 1.5 times more likely to be in insecure jobs in the university workforce.

Women in STEM The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is also concerning for areas where women are not the majority, such as in STEM research. A recent Campus Morning Mail article suggests gender equity gains will be most certainly undermined in STEM and the flow on effects are likely to persist for years.

Career stalling NTEU is concerned that COVID-19 is being used as a smokescreen by management who want to performance manage staff or block career progression. As well as hindering women’s career progression in STEM due to reduced career opportunities and the high proportion of women in precarious employment, the RRIF report has also found that university management is also likely to wind back equity programs that promote STEM workforce diversity.

A submission to the Federal Government on the effects of COVID-19 on Australia’s research capabilities from The Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF), chaired by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, reported projected university job losses of up to 21,000 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. The report notes, ‘concerns that women, early-career researchers and recent graduates will disproportionately experience negative impacts’ and that ‘job insecurity is emerging as an even more troubling issue for women in STEM than for men [due to] high proportions of women employed in short-term contract and casual jobs’.

The report also found that women from diverse backgrounds will face additional barriers to entry, retention, and progression, particularly in STEM areas, as a result of COVID-19.

While vulnerability to job losses will vary from discipline to discipline, in some areas the proportion of women in insecure employment is exceptionally high – for example, in mathematics, 64% of all women in academic positions are in casual jobs.

We know already that women academics often carry more of the load for teaching than their male counterparts, either because they are seen to ‘be so good with the students’ or – especially in the case of early career academics – because they may not feel confident in challenging decisions that

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In addition to job losses, the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis also has workload implications, both for academic and professional/general staff. The RRIF report found that loss of income during COVID19 has already led to a rapid reduction in casual teaching staff, and subsequently increased teaching workloads for traditional mixed teaching-research academic staff, thus reducing research capacity.


COVID-19

Impact of COVID-19 on women in the sector

the capacity to work from home. They are particularly vulnerable to the threat of being stood down or to being targeted in future redundancy rounds.

• ABS data (released 13 August 2020) shows that the gender pay gap has increased to 14%, with women earning $253.60 a week less than men. This is only an increase of $10.70 a week since the November 2019 data.

During COVID-19, for those women who have been working from home, the RRIF report cites evidence that ‘suggests women face disproportionate increases in caring responsibilities and disruptions to working hours, job security and paid work capacity’.

• Between February and July 2020 more Australian women than men have lost jobs and female workforce participation has dropped by 1.5%. • COVID-19 job losses are being felt in feminised areas – retail, hospitality, cleaning and services – where job insecurity and irregular hours is the norm. • Women are also at the forefront of ‘essential services’ – nursing and health/medical care (especially as carers in aged care and disability), teaching, food retail, supermarkets. effectively overload them with teaching hours, particularly given that women predominate in lower level academic structures. It is also no surprise that there are more women in the ‘teaching only’ academic streams, where additional loads resulting from reduction in casual and sessional staff numbers are concentrated.

Higher workloads Similarly, professional/general staff who survive mass redundancy are left to carry additional workloads, noting that the work does not disappear when staff positions do. However, unlike academic staff, professional/general staff may not have

Additionally, recent research by VincentLamarre, Sugimoto, and Lariviere on the decline of women’s research production during the coronavirus pandemic, notes that male academics are four times more likely to have a partner engaged in full time domestic care than their female colleagues

Women in research Not surprisingly, there has also been a reduction in research production by women researchers. A preliminary analysis of publications during the COVID-19 period has shown a reduction in the number of papers produced with women as first authors, and this has also affected early career women researchers.

Domestic violence We know from broader research that women are also bearing the brunt of other COVID-19 related stress, mental health problems and physical and emotional violence. In an interview on the ABC’s The Drum, Julia Baird cited strong evidence that levels of domestic and family violence have increased during COVID-19 partly as a result of social isolation and added domestic stresses, such as all family members being in the same environment constantly and/or unemployed.

The NTEU views domestic and family violence as a workplace issue, noting this violence does not stop once the victim leaves home. However, in an environment where the target of the violence is working from home, the risk to that person from their perpetrator increases dramatically. There is also evidence that the COVID-19 crisis has seen rates of alcohol consumption increase. ANU research has found that while men had increased alcohol consumption slightly, women increased substantially. For women, the research found that stress was a significant driver.

Pandemic as opportunity The COVID-19 crisis has presented many managers in universities with an opportunity to attempt widespread industrial relations changes. This may in the long-term result in wider restructures, less protections around redundancies, and increased casualisation through ‘flexible employment’ models. Union experience has shown that these practices disproportionally impact women. Unfortunately, this Government has shown that it is more than happy to use COVID-19 to push its own agenda for the sector, seeing the deep crisis as a political opportunity. The unfair and flawed Job-Ready Graduate package promoted by the Government will only create further incentives for management in universities to go down the track of undermining industrial protections, pay and most of all, job security – all of which will affect women more so than men. In fact, in the absence of a real Federal Government rescue package for the sector, and with the sector facing a funding crisis that is likely to expand further, women are in the firing line. Image: Marvin Meyer/Unsplash

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COVID-19 Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Effect of COVID on A&TSI females in precarious employment

Acting Chair, A&TSIPC

I am in a fortune position to hold a full time ongoing appointment; however, this has only been a recent change in circumstances for me, having spent 18 years in precarious employment within the university sector. Having said this, I still hold casual positions at two other universities! Here I am drawing on the stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (A&TSI) casuals around the country, whilst attending A&TSI casuals forum in my capacity as Chair of the NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Policy Committee (A&TSIPC). When COVID-19 hit we lost the ability to have face to face meetings with our A&TSI members across the country, so it was decided to hold a series of zoom meetings to ensure that mob felt supported by their union. This included having meetings in each Division as well as specific national casuals Zoom meetings, as we recognise that this group were affected very differently. From the responses received, we were not wrong in that assumption. A significant portion of A&TSI women were undertaking a research higher degree (HDR), and were casually employed, in addition to their family and community responsibilities. Worst of all, casual contracts were ‘drying up’, and fixed term contract were not being renewed due to the cost cutting measures enforced throughout the sector at various universities, putting household finances under stress, for a group which are already the most socio-economically disadvantaged in the country. For those undertaking HDRs, the challenges of continuing research when travel restrictions are in place is impossible, and particularly exasperated by our mob being in the highest risk category of COVID-19. In addition, the challenges of conducting research or any type of study was impossible when you had a mob of kids at home, who you had to home school, without any family support, due to COVID19 restrictions and many mob who relied on family for assistance could no longer do so, for health reasons. At a time when we see the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the

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systemic issues faced by Indigenous peoples worldwide, we need to reduce structural and systemic racism experienced by A&TSI peoples in this country, especially within the higher education sector. For the last several rounds of bargaining, the NTEU has bargained for numeric targets in enterprise agreements around the country to ensure that A&TSI peoples are employed in the sector, which ensures that A&TSI students are attracted to higher education. However, we have seen a dramatic loss in the last few months of so many A&TSI peoples within the sector, especially from Indigenous centres of learning around the country, and the fear I have is that we may never recover from this.

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The Government and indeed universities are using COVID-19 as an excuse to make the most vulnerable in our society more marginalised than ever before. There is a real fear around the country that our Indigenous centres will cease to exist. We are seeing ISSP funding siphoned off into other areas of universities, instead of being used for its intended purpose and this will only create a bigger educational gap than what already exists. Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer is an academic at the University of Queensland, the Acting Chair of NTEU’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee, and an A&TSI National Councillor. Image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com/Unsplash


COVID-19

More than just gender equity for a better future

Jeannie Rea

Immediate Past President

From when the coronavirus appeared in Wuhan last December and as it spread around the world, it was obvious that women were expected to step up in the home and the workplace and take on an even greater share of caring work. Women were stood down from jobs or sent home to keep doing them, as the work piled on at home with schools closed. As men acted shell shocked at losing their jobs, women had to also look after them. Women have kept being there as frontline workers in health and community care, and were bemused as their humble jobs as cleaners and shop assistants became essential services. While they copped abuse from the frustrated, they were cheered on by most, but their pay and job security is unchanged while conditions worsened on the COVID19 frontline. Once the Australian data started coming in, it confirmed more women have lost jobs; but men stuck at home are doing a little more of the housework and care of their own children. The big question is what will happen now. Will men keep up sharing household work and child care, or will they escape as soon as they can? Some women need to escape now as their homes are no haven, but sites of abuse. Will women be stuck, as those career jobs they worked so hard for do not come back? Will the new jobs have security and career paths, and decent pay and conditions? Will the decades of struggle by women with our unions for gender equity be wound back? Researchers are already predicting it could take a decade to get back to where we were. And yet where we were was still tenuous for the majority of women. Casualisation of the workforce, rampant in Australia over the last two decades, is now widely understood to also be deadly as a cause of coronavirus spread. But crises are also harbingers of change. During the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago, women then too picked up the unpaid and undervalued caring, including for the literally shell shocked returning

soldiers. Nurses though, are of the ‘call it out’ and Women were at last visible and demonstrate equity culture. and girls are recognised as skilled So as we reel from the literally cleaning up carers and life savers. year of this pandemic, the climate mess at This arguably raised surely we must be the grassroots level, the status of nursing focussed upon how do we towards the long road while it still mainly harness the momentum to professional standing. men making the for change, as there is no In a crisis people do get going back. How will we decisions. to do things they usually do grab the good stuff and jettison not. Stereotyped gender roles, the bad? which are still remarkably strong in 2020 Australia, could be getting a shaking, We have seen governments and their even as women are more visible in essential agents act with haste to respond to an and emergency jobs, where they have been emergency, albeit far too often with intent quietly establishing careers. to also shore up other agendas. It remains dumbfounding that this understanding of Children and young people, freed from haste is still not the response to the climate school, are up to all sorts of interesting change emergency. things, as they grab the digital space. They are supporting their peers not just Unsurprisingly, we continue to watch the across town, but internationally. They are consequences of climate change falling politicised, but it may not be as we know it. disproportionately on women. Women and girls are literally cleaning up the climate Last year, we saw young people connect mess at the grassroots level, while it is still around the world in the School Strikes for mainly men making the decisions. But I Climate Action. Interestingly, while we have confidence that this will change – and focussed upon the young European girl the change will not be about getting more speaking in English, the kids themselves women into parliament and board rooms were linking up globally across language, (although of course there should be gender culture, religious, geographical and racial equity), it will be about challenging the very divisions. The response of young women legitimacy of these forums making life and and men of colour to grabbing the death decisions. opportunity sadly sparked by the public police murder of George Floyd, is broad We cannot just knit, reduce consumption and global. And more white peers are or garden our way to climate and social standing alongside – and also listening. justice, but we can certainly keep creating and caring for what we value and stop Young women are in the forefront of climate cooperating with what we do not want. Let campaigns and on Black Lives Matter us hope that when students come back on frontlines. They are assuming gender equity campuses they demand more and better of and refusing to be sidelined – and more their teachers and institutions. young men get this. But the reality is that Associate Professor Jeannie Rea teaches in gender sexism and male violence persist and must studies, international community development and not be downplayed. Young activists though planetary health at Victoria University. are not of the so-called cancel culture; they

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COVID-19

Resilient worlds of care

Dr Elizabeth Adamczyk University of Newcastle

A feminising perspective on belonging in capitalist spaces of precarity Inhabiting various roles; as a young(ish) woman, recently exiting a PhD, in the liminal spaces of casual academia, as the NTEU Branch casual representative, and now, experiencing another layer of insecurity encountering the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wondered: how do we care for ourselves, while we care for our sector?

Self-care In 2019 I met three union women. We have each campaigned at our own institutions and together in union, to bring visibility and dignity to the work of casuallyemployed university staff systemically bracketed out of many basic representations and recognitions of human rights. It was in our shared experiences of seemingly unending union work in 2020, that I have found significant relationships with these women. In daily class struggle, melees with neoliberalising university managers, and patriarchal interactions in our white colonised institutions, we built friendships through shared union hopes, beliefs, industrial questions, rules, policy, motions, tactical observations, and dreams of life outside of the violences of this sector. In our myriad interactions, I found accidental spaces that are more than quotidian. Beyond the shared and divergent economic and social marginalisations, we shared our everyday lives; gardening photos, encouraging emojis, music, laughter, weariness, animal memes, and ideas for a plot line for a casual staff blockbuster.

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The cheers, prosaic advice, props and check-ins, interjected into the anonymised and de-humanised experiences of being a casual academic in this sector, as inclusive interventions of feminised relations of care.

As the day went on, we shared experiences of employment in the higher education system in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., with union comrades from within and outside the NTEU.

I now look forward to when I finish teaching a class to a WhatsApp notification that I have 46 unread messages in our group chat.

And on our zoom-time COVID-19 continuums, after more than 10 hours, we sat sharing solidarity drinks in our (virtual) room, and I found it hard to pull myself away from the energising spirit that I found in the on-screen collective, knowing that lecturing undergraduate students beckoned.

Collective-care The creative spaces of union organising that have been opened up by this pandemic means I have had the opportunity to connect with new and familiar comrades from within my institution, around the country, and across the world.

One weekend recently, with the women above and with other union comrades, I helped organise a seminar day for casually-employed union members, as a purposive attempt at creating I have had the spaces of belonging, opportunity to connect to skill-share, learn, and connect in with new and familiar union.

comrades from within my institution, around the country, and across the world.

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When we began the first of a number of sessions at 9am, I was already looking forward to the remainder of my Saturday. I had two new lectures to write by Monday.

Future-care In these everyday lived experiences, forging political sites of belonging outside of the subjectivities of the neoliberal university, I am reminded of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s feminist political imaginary as ‘the vision of a decentralised movement that connects globally dispersed subjects and spaces … as sites of becoming and opportunities for belonging’. In union with comrades joined in the desire to build back tertiary education, better, by creating resilient worlds of care; not for our selves, but for our higher education sector. Dr Elizabeth Adamczyk is a casual academic at the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University. She is on the NTEU Newcastle Branch Committee where she is convenor of the Newcastle Casuals Caucus, and a member of the NTEU National Tertiary Casuals Committee.


COVID-19 Ellyse Fenton

Just say No

University of Queensland

An impossible task for a precariously employed woman Teaching is difficult and demanding work. Combining intellectual, administrative, and caring labour, it is gendered in complex ways. It is also undervalued, a problem affecting teachers everywhere but taking particularly pernicious form in higher education. I have been teaching in universities, on and off, for thirteen years. All of my teaching has been casualised. I have had only limited control over what and how I teach, shifted from course to course as a more or less permanent resource to fill ‘temporary’ gaps in teaching schedules. My labour has been paid using highly exploitative piece rates that do not reflect the amount of time it takes to do the work, and access to professional development and administrative support is highly attenuated for precarious workers, some of whom do not even have access to a desk. When COVID-19 hit, I was coordinating a compulsory first-year undergraduate course. The majority of my 230-student cohort were in their first semester at university and, understandably, needed considerable support to make the transition to online learning. They needed help learning new technologies. They needed clear and regular communication about the changes happening in the course. They needed access to additional learning resources when internet connections proved too unstable to support reliance on video conferencing technology. Perhaps more than anything else, they needed human contact – careful and caring responses to their queries and concerns, to be treated as people whose perspectives and experiences mattered to the institution to which they were paying such exorbitant fees. Like precarious workers across the sector, I knew I would never be paid for the work I did to

shepherd my students through this very challenging semester. Course design and development work is never considered required of casualised teachers, despite the fact that many courses are taught exclusively by precarious staff for years on end. The labour of care is devalued at the best of times, considered the purview of the naively dedicated few who sacrifice research careers to toil in what philosopher Robin Zheng refers to as ‘academic housework’1 – the invisible supportive labour that keeps

students engaged, colleagues connected, and the whole institution running smoothly. Discussing the additional work generated by the pandemic with a sympathetic male colleague, he said to me, ‘You just have to learn to say no.’ He was trying to help, but his comment assumes an agency that simply is not available to a worker like me – to ‘just say no’ as a precariously employed woman is a far riskier endeavour than to do so from a position of secure employment and masculine privilege, a position in which no one expects you to do the care work, anyway. More than this, his comment makes exploitation an individual problem, a deficiency of workers themselves – of timidity, credulity, generosity – instead of seeing it for what it is: the structural inevitability of a forprofit educational system. The pandemic has reinforced the extent to which universities rely on the devalued labour of casualised workers, a system in which gender and precarity intersect to sustain exploitation. The only way to challenge this system is to build the solidarity necessary for all of us, collectively, to say no. Dr Ellyse Fenton has been a casual academic at the University of Queensland for thirteen years. She is the casual staff representative on the UQ Branch Committee, convenor of the UQ Casuals Caucus, and a member of the NTEU National Tertiary Casuals Committee. 1. Zheng, R. (2018). ‘Precarity is a Feminist Issue: Gender and Contingent Labor in the Academy’. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 33(2): 235-255. Image: STIL/Unsplash

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International

Visualising women’s representation Women’s full and equal participation in all facets of society is a fundamental human right. Yet, around the world, from politics to entertainment to the workplace, women and girls are largely underrepresented. UN Women have created a number of visualisations that take a closer look at this gender-imbalanced picture over time, revealing just how slow progress is. Click on an image to view the animated version

Rooted in patriarchal norms and traditions, the consequences are far-reaching with detrimental, negative consequences on the personal, economic and future well-being of women and girls, their families and the community at large. Building a sustainable future for all, means leaving no one behind. Women and girls are critical to finding solutions to the biggest challenges we face today and must be heard, valued and celebrated throughout society to reflect their perspectives and choices for their future and that of the advancement of humanity. How many more generations are needed for women and girls to realise their rights?

Politics Women’s political representation globally has doubled in the last 25 years. But, this only amounts to around 1 in 4 parliamentary seats held by women today. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the highest political positions. In October 2019, there were only 10 women Head of State and 13 women Head of Government across 22 countries, compared with four Head of State and eight PMs across 12 countries in 1995.

Culture and sciences Bestowed annually to recognise intellectual achievement and academic, cultural and scientific advances, the Nobel Prize has been awarded to more than 900 individuals in the course of its history from 1901 to 2019. Only 53 of the winners have been women, 19 in the categories of physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine. Marie Curie became the first female laureate in 1903, when she and her husband won a joint Prize for physics. Eight years later she was solely awarded the Chemistry Prize, making her the only woman in history to win the Nobel Prize twice. Although women have been behind a number of scientific discoveries throughout history, just 30% of researchers worldwide and 35% of all students enrolled in STEMrelated fields of study are women.

Work In June 2019, the Fortune 500 hit a milestone with the most women CEOs on record. While every gain is a win, the sum as a whole is a bleak picture: Out of the 500 chief executives leading the highestgrossing firms, just under 7% are women. When looking at the workforce as a whole, the gender gap in labour force participation among working age adults (25 to 54) has stagnated over the past 20 years. Improved education among women has done little

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to shift deeply entrenched occupational segregation in developed and developing countries. Women continue to carry out a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work. In developing countries, that includes arduous tasks such as water collection, for which women and girls are responsible in 80% of households that do not have access to water on the premises.


International

of traditional news and digital news stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes. Among other factors, stereotypes and the significant underrepresentation of women in the media play a significant role in shaping harmful attitudes of disrespect and violence towards women.

Entertainment

Journalism When it comes to equality of men and women in news media, progress has virtually ground to a halt. According to the largest study on the portrayal, participation and representation of women in the news media spanning 20 years and 114 countries, only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news are women. A glass ceiling also exists for women news reporters in newspaper bylines and newscast reports, with 37% of stories reported by women as of 2015, showing no change over the course of a decade. Despite the democratising promise of digital media, women’s poor representation in traditional news media is also reflected in digital news, with women making up only 26% of the people in Internet news stories and media news tweets. Only 4%

Like other forms of media, film and television have a powerful influence in shaping cultural perceptions and attitudes towards gender and are key to shifting the narrative for the gender equality agenda. Yet, an analysis of popular films across 11 countries found, for example, that 31% of all speaking characters were women and that only 23% featured a female protagonist – a number that closely mirrored the percentage of women filmmakers (21%). The gross underrepresentation of women in the film industry is also glaringly evident in critically acclaimed film awards: In the 92-year history of the Oscars, only five women have ever been nominated for the Best Director Award category; and one woman – Kathryn Bigelow – has ever won. And, Jane Campion remains the only woman director to have won the Cannes Film Festival’s top, most prestigious prize, the Palme d’Or, in its 72-year history. The only other women to have received the prize – but jointly – were actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux with the movie’s male director Abdellatif Kechiche. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the message is worth a million: If we are to shift stereotypical notions of gender and reflect women’s realities, we need more women in film, on-screen and off-screen.

Sport Sports has the power to inspire change and break gender stereotypes – and women have been doing just that decade after decade, showing that they are just as capable, resilient and strong as men physically, but also strategically, as leaders and game changers

Today, women are far more visible in sports than ever before: The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were projected to have close to equal representation of women and men competing for the first time in its history. For comparison, only 22 women (2.2%) out of a total of 997 athletes competed in the modern Olympics for the first time in 1900. Women and men will compete in almost all sports categories with an exception: Rhythmic gymnastics and artistic swimming are women’s-only events and Greco-Roman wrestling is a men’s-only event – although women can compete in freestyle wrestling. Despite progress, women still continue to be excluded in certain sports in parts of the world and are paid far less than men in wages and prize money globally. UN Women is working to level the playing field for women and girls, including through partnerships with the International Olympic Committee, and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and all-time top scorer of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Marta Vieira da Silva.

Culinary arts Despite women being prescribed stereotypical roles in the kitchen at home, the upper echelons of the restaurant industry have remained relatively closed to female chefs. As detailed in the documentary A Fine Line, women must often overcome active discrimination and navigate a culture that both glorifies masculinity and tacitly condones harassment. Paired with long, unpredictable and inflexible working hours, unfriendly family and childcare policies and lower salaries, women face enormous challenges when entering the restaurant business. The numbers match the story: Today, just under 4% of chefs with three Michelin stars (the highest rating you can get) from the prominent restaurant guide are women. View all the animated visualisations here

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

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International Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

A country rallies to raise the number of women in science

University World News

Fauste Ndikumana’s dream was to defy all odds stacked against her gender and become either a pilot or an astronaut. ‘I was committed. I wanted my dream to become a reality and my family was also supportive,’ says the 29-year-old from the rural area of Nyamasheke district in Rwanda’s Western Province. Ndikumana worked hard throughout school and secured a university scholarship to study electrical engineering rather than her first choice of electronics. She opted to pursue mathematics instead. ‘I believed that with mathematics, I would have an option to pursue most science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses into a masters and I could still pursue my dream,’ she said. Today, Ndikumana holds a bachelor degree in mathematics and a masters in mathematical sciences from the former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Her class consisted entirely of men, apart from herself and one other woman. Rather than a pilot or astronaut, she is employed as a public servant and holds a position as a product and technology development specialist (STEM) at the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) where she has worked on several projects, including one focused on gridded data in Rwanda and how it can help farmers become resilient to climate change.

Low enrolment in STEM In Rwanda, a majority of female students shy away from STEM-related courses and the number pursuing STEM-related courses is still low compared to males. The University of Rwanda, which is the biggest higher education institution in the country, aims to raise the percentage of STEM students to 90% in the next 10 years from the current 52%, and to increase the female STEM enrolment to 33%, which would still be below the global average. According to a UNESCO report, Cracking the code: girls’ and women’s education in STEM, women represent 35% of all students enrolled in STEM-related fields of study in higher education around the world. The report, released in 2017, notes that the gender disparity is alarming, especially as STEM careers are often referred to as the jobs of the future, driving innovation, social wellbeing, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

She believes more girls and women should be pursuing careers in science.

In Rwanda, educationalists and experts attribute the low enrolment of girls and women to a culture that discourages girls from pursuing sciences on the basis that STEM is ‘too hard’ for girls or is a male preserve.

‘Girls are able and can perform well in sciences especially when they have goals. But they have to overcome any sort of discouragement. They have to go beyond the myth that there are tasks meant for boys only. They also have to adapt to the

According to Dr Herine Otieno Menya, the director of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences’ Teacher Training Program, Rwanda, the gender disparity in STEM in Rwanda ‘has nothing to do with the ability of the girls to do sciences. In fact,

She won a Women in STEM Rising Star Award from the National Council for Science and Technology for the project.

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environment whether conducive or not,’ she said, emphasising the need for support from family members and society in general.

VOLUME 28, SEPTEMBER 2020

there are countries where girls do much better than boys in sciences in ‘A’ Level, but you will still find more boys in STEM courses in universities.’ She said there was a widespread belief that you are either born to do well in mathematics and sciences or you are not. ‘Which is wrong,’ she said. Otieno, who has a PhD in mathematics education, said girls tend to learn in a different way to boys. ‘When people are learning, emotions are also involved and there has always been a tradition of presenting mathematics and sciences in a very dry way … that actually works against the girls,’ she said.

Social goals She said girls ‘tend to identify more strongly with social goals; they want to do something or be connected to something they see has benefit for the community’, she said. Otieno said girls tend to do better in biology which is connected to real life. She said girls tend to disconnect with sciences when they are presented in a highly theoretical form with heavy emphasis on calculations rather than how it impacts life or how it is translated into something else. ‘So when that happens, the boys are okay with looking clever. The fact that I can solve that question and I look very clever is okay. But girls tend to be drawn to something that is going to impact society,’ she said. Otieno said the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) works with partners to mobilise students in secondary schools by sending role models who are in


International

universities or have graduated in sciencerelated courses to share their experiences. ‘The idea is for them to see fellow women in their context, like a Rwandan who could say: ‘I went to a school like this one and I am an engineer,’ and they will be able to show not that they were so bright, but that they worked hard,’ she said.

Lack of evaluation Otieno said there was a lack of evaluation of how sciences were being taught at university, the teaching and learning environment, and how gender responsive it was. ‘There are people we lose at that level because the environment is not as gender responsive as it should be and there are no deliberate interventions at that level.’ She said there was room for more work, not only in Rwanda but in Africa, on how STEM could be better promoted and taught at universities to include more women. Dr Fabien Hagenimana, Vice-Chancellor of the Institute of Applied Sciences, a private university in the Northern Province better known as INES-Ruhengeri, confirmed that female students tend to shy away from STEM courses especially where mathematics and physics are involved. ‘We have a small number of female students in STEM especially where mathematics and physics are required,’ he said. ‘For instance we have 20% of female students in civil engineering and 25% of females in land surveying because there is a lot of mathematics,’ he said.

‘Some girls tend to pursue soft subjects after secondary, they prefer options such as tourism and hotel management and shy away from sciences,’ he said.

Forum for African Women Educationalists However, he said that together with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Rwanda chapter, INES has managed to increase the female enrolment in biomedical and biotechnical options to 48%. ‘At our university, we encourage girls and support them, female students are given priority and the majority stay in campus hostels. We have a guidance and counselling committee so that girls do not get disrupted, we organise a Miss Bright pageant where the brightest female is recognised in a bid to encourage more to do better,’ he said. According to Antonia Mutoro, FAWE Rwanda chapter coordinator, more efforts are being invested in supporting female students in education especially in pursuing STEM-related courses. Working with partners such as UNICEF and Plan International, FAWE Rwanda currently runs two secondary schools, one in Kigali, and another in the Kayonza district in the Eastern Province. It also offers scholarships. ‘So far, we have offered scholarships to over 20,494 in many schools and only 6,200 are boys. Of those, 80% have gone to universities to study STEM-related courses,’ she said.

FAWE Rwanda also boasts of a number of female graduates in STEM-related fields such as health sciences. Others are software engineers, pilots and civil engineers, while others are in ICT-related fields as well as in education, according to Mutoro. Despite these successes, there are still challenges affecting female enrolment in STEM university study, said Mutoro.

Calls for combined efforts They include ‘cultural beliefs and gender stereotypes, discouragement from peers and un-informed teachers as well as low self-esteem among some girls’, she said, calling for combined efforts towards supporting girls in sciences. The Government of Rwanda is also playing a role in addressing these challenges. Dr Rose Mukankomeje, Executive Director of the Higher Education Council, said the Government is committed to increasing the number of science students in general and female students in particular. ‘It is a government commitment to increase the number of female students in science disciplines. Gender parity is a priority in education especially in sciences.’ She said the Government works with FAWE Rwanda, AIMS, the MasterCard Foundation and UNICEF Rwanda, among others, to promote the sciences. This article was originally published 29 July 2020 by University World News. Above: Fauste Ndikumana (Credit: UWN)

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#Feminism

#ChallengeAccepted Earlier this year, #ChallengeAccepted appeared on social media to ask women to post a flattering black-and-white selfie. At least 3 million posts accumulated under the hashtag, but what is #WomenSupportingWomen? What does it mean? Celebrities began posting well-lit B&W photos of themselves in July, usually with a caption espousing the virtues of women in general and maybe two to three women in particular. The hashtag was ‘meant to celebrate strength, spread love, and remind all women that supporting each other is everything.’ But where did it begin? There are conflicting theories about how the challenge started. The New York Times pointed out there have been previous iterations of social-media users posting B&W pictures with #ChallengeAccepted, including a 2016 campaign meant to raise awareness for cancer. It was speculated that the latest round of B&W selfies could have been inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s electric speech in the US Congress in which she addressed being called a ‘fucking bitch’ by a male

colleague, and which apparently resulted in a spike in social-media posts about feminism and women’s empowerment. However, women in Turkey began posting B&W photos on social media in July to protest femicide and domestic violence and to grieve the violent death of Pinar Gültekin, a university student who was reportedly killed by her ex-boyfriend. The writer Mina Tümay explained in a post: ‘People in Turkey regularly see black and white images of women on the news, but they are pictures of women who have been violently murdered; the country has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world. The photo challenge circulating right now was in response to Pinar’s death. A way for Turkish women to stand in solidarity with those lost and shine a light on what is happening.

@minaonthemoon

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This is much more than an opportunity to post a nice pic of you. It’s much more than supporting other women by asking them to do the same. Social media can do so much good, but so often the intended impactful message is quickly lost - it’s kinda like playing that game where you whisper something in someone’s ear and then they pass it on to someone else and so on, and the original message comes out the other end completely different. So post your photo, but do if for Pinar and all the other women, especially women of colour, who have been lost to violence.’ The original accompanying hashtags were #kadınaşiddetehayır #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır which translate to say ‘no to violence against women’ and ‘enforce the Istanbul Treaty/Doctrine’ (where rights to protect women are signed.)


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