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University funds groundbreaking research into the workplace gender divide

29 August 2018
Funding cutting-edge research
The University of Sydney is to further fund cutting edge research into the future of work and careers for young women with the aim of eroding the barriers to gender equality in the workplace.

The University of Sydney is to further fund cutting edge research into the future of work and careers for young women with the aim of eroding the barriers to gender equality in the workplace.

The funding, provided by the University’s ‘Sydney Research Excellence Initiative’ (SREI2020), will expand the work of the Women Work and Leadership Research Group, founded 12 years ago by the Business School’s Professors Rae Cooper and Marian Baird.

The Group’s ground-breaking ‘Australian Women’s Working Futures Report’ triggered a national debate over gender equality in the workplace.

“We have already excited considerable business, government and media interests with the first wave of research and we are now seeking to build on this interest through upcoming papers and reports,” said Professor Cooper.

The ‘Australian Women’s Working Futures Report’ indicated that most Australian workplaces are not yet ready to meet the aspirations of young women or “support their future success at work due to issues related to workplace respect, access to secure employment and sexual harassment”.

“An innovative feature of our ongoing research is that it asks young women between 16 and 40 what they themselves see in their future of work and the ways in which they are gearing for the future.”

“Our first report made it clear that there is a real thirst for data and insight on this topic,” Professor Cooper said. “The future of work debate has been incredibly gender blind and this is a problem for understanding the trajectory and nuance of the future of work.”

“We are looking forward to making a major contribution to this vital academic, business and community debate.”

The new funding will be used to employ a post-doctoral research fellow, to undertake further targeted fieldwork and to build collaborative relationships with industry and the community around work.

Announcing the SREI2020 grant, the University said the establishment of the new research centre “comes at a time when discussion of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and the global push for gender equality is at an historic peak”.

Working with Professors Cooper and Baird will be political economist, Dr Elizabeth Hill, the Director of Research Development (Social Sciences) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Ariadne Vromen and Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, Professor Elspeth Probyn.

“This multi-disciplinary team has been vital to the success of our work to date and will be into the future,” said Professor Cooper. “Each of the researchers is a leader in her own field and brings their own particular interests, questions, method and insights to the project.”

The CWWF is one of only four research projects to receive second round funding from the $150 million SREI2020. The University’s funding announcement said that the SREI2020 was driven by “ambitious, gutsy” research and researchers prepared to seek “excellence, take risks and think outside the square”.

“SREI2020 is about identifying new areas for the University to excel in and be recognised for,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison.

Welcoming the University’s decision to back the CWWF, the Business School’s Associate Dean Professor Eddie Anderson, said the funding was a “vote of confidence in the quality and impact of research carried out by the Business School”.

“The Women Work and Leadership Research Group has a tremendous record of carrying out important research in this area,” Professor Anderson continued. “The new research project to include collaborators from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, widens the scope of this extremely important work.”