This article was originally posted on news.com.au by Liz Burke on January 27, 2017. Click here to read the original.
A PARTICULARLY heinous brand of sexism faced by Australia’s most educated woman has been exposed in a damning survey of professional industries including engineering and IT.
Managers in STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and maths) have been revealed to avoid hiring women because they “nag”, take on women considering reasons other than their skills and qualifications because they want a “work wife”, and prefer men because they can “pee on the run”.
The shocking details accompanied by the concerning warning that three quarters of women who work in these areas plan to drop out of their profession within the next five years due to restrictions in career progression.
The claims are included in a submission from industry group Professional Australia to a senate inquiry into gender segregation in the workplace.
The comprehensive submission includes results from a survey undertaken by the professional body, showing that 25.8 per cent of women reported being sexually harassed at work with half taking no action on the matter, and 7 per cent quitting their jobs over it.
Women in the STEM industries reported experiencing bias against women in their male-dominated fields, and described their industry as a “boys club”.
“Career progression is not always based on merit,” one respondent said.
Women reported having to “fight for the pay and respect that men get naturally”, and were told to be a “good sport” when on the receiving end of sexist comments.
One employee said women were regularly accused of “nagging” when making reasonable requests of male colleagues, with one recalling being told “you sound like my wife” after requesting overdue information from a male colleague.
“I took over a job on an industrial site from an obviously disliked female employee and on first meeting an operator (was) told ‘not another f***ing woman, are you here to nag us as well?’” one respondent said.
A female scientist reported opportunities diminished for women in the eyes of male managers once they became more senior.
“A lot of scientists like cute student girls,” she said.
“Once that time period has passed, you are less likely to be offered any roles in anything.”
The report also highlighted that women felt sidelined once they had children, with men being considered “more serious about their careers”.
One respondent reported being offered a demotion after returning from maternity leave to “help with family flexibility”. Another said she was told by a manger if she applied for a job alongside a male of the same age and experience, the male would be selected “as they are less likely to take leave in the future to care for children”.
The report showed male engineers earned 24 per cent more than their female colleagues when they worked fulltime, and fulltime male scientists earned 18 per cent more than their female counterparts.
In its submission, Professionals Australia said it hoped shining a light on the issues faced by highly-educated professional women could be addressed.
The group said it wanted to “encourage police-makers and employers to look at ways to tackle gender segregation by looking at the need to address entrenched structural bias in work practices”.
“Tackling the issues will be fundamental to providing for the optimal attraction, development and retention of women in the STEM workforce, and to fully realising Australia’s productivity potential and innovative capability into the future.”
The senate inquiry into gender segregation into the workplace and its impact on women’s economic equality is due to report by March this year.