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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 6 > Members take action to address inequity faced by working women

Members take action to address inequity faced by working women

Union_women.pngThe challenges and ongoing inequity faced by working women are central to new IEUA-QNT work plan under development with the assistance of members across the sector. 

Development of a work plan to address the challenges faced by working women in our sector and across the Australian workforce, is now underway following the recent IEUA-QNT Women’s Conference.

In discussing the issues of the gender pay gap, inequitable caring responsibilities, inflexible working arrangements, inadequate paid parental leave, shortfalls in superannuation and the lack of female representation in positions of leadership, members have identified eight key action areas for the plan:

  • Work-Family Balance
  • Moving into Leadership
  • Mentoring
  • Financial Inequity
  • Mental Health
  • Professional Risks
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Activism through union 

Gender gaps

With a recent ACTU report revealing that Australian women are now earning less on average in comparison to men than they were 20 years ago, the We Can Do It! Women’s Conference reinforced that it will be women unionists, now the majority of all Australian unionists, who will lead change to address the many gaps that continue to exist for working women today.

According to Conference keynote speaker, Professor Marian Baird, these include:

  • Gender pay gap 
  • Hours gap
  • Paid leave gap 
  • Superannuation gap 
  • Care gap
  • Occupation gap
  • Leadership gap 
  • Time pressure gap 

Member action vital

IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Rebecca Sisson said with our union consisting of a majority of women members, mirroring the gender representation of our industry, members have an important role to play in changing the landscape for working women.

“Discussion outcomes from the conference point to the need to enhance our union’s internal capacity, develop a focused industrial agenda on these issues, and provide advocacy on the policy settings around the significant workplace issues that disproportionately affect women,” Ms Sisson said.

“In addition to the recommendations from members who attended the Conference, a number of the foundations for the development of the work plan are already in place.

“We have commenced audits of relevant leave provisions in our sector, such as current parental leave and flexible working provisions, to identify where there are gaps and where enhancements to be made,” Ms Sisson said.

“When it comes to employer or government policies which continue to reinforce the inequality faced by working women in this country – such as changes to the federal government’s paid parental leave scheme – our union will continue to strongly oppose such policies, in solidarity with colleagues from other unions.

“In terms of mentoring we are looking at developing training packages for members and will be seeking to improve activism through union representation beginning with an audit of the number of women members currently part of IEUA-QNT Council, Branch Executive as well as our union’s committees and workgroups,” she said.

Ms Sisson said other areas for action are likely to be revealed as development of the work plan continues.

“As these actions are identified and defined, our plan to address them will be enacted through various committees, supported by IEUA-QNT staff,” Ms Sisson said.

“Ultimately, translating the plan into meaningful change in the workplace will be dependent on the support of members across the sectors to take action on each of these challenges in solidarity with their colleagues regardless of gender,” she said.

For more on the work plan, contact IEUA-QNT Research Officer Adele Schmidt via aschmidt@qieu.asn.au or phone (07) 3839 7020.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.