Progress towards gender equality in Australia is slow and significant gaps remain as women cannot participate in the labour market on an even footing with men. The pandemic increased pre-existing inequalities and widened gender gaps in earnings, savings, and participation in the workforce. Across the globe, businesses and governments are now encouraged to 'build back better' and address gender inequality for a fairer and more resilient post-COVID economy.
The University of Sydney’s GEWL Research Initiative offers unique, research-led insights, developed using new workplace data to deliver effective gender equality measures. This initiative will bring together world-leading research capability with practical, evidence-based analysis working across three themes:
- Designing gender equality into the future of work
- Addressing gender disparities to build equal, sustainable career opportunities
- Building alignment in work and care regimes that work for women, men and workplaces
The Director of the initiative, Rae Cooper AO, Professor of Gender, Work and Employment Relations at the University of Sydney Business School said:
A gender-blind approach to the future of work by organisations, governments and unions will put a brake on Australia’s economic growth and prosperity. It will compromise the efficiency of our labour markets, constrain productivity, and limit well-being while increasing economic insecurity, and reducing labour force participation for women.
“Our approach is rigorous, practical, inclusive and targeted. This new initiative offers research-led insights using the latest workplace data to support employers, employees, unions, households, the Australian economy and society to be more inclusive, resilient and prosperous.”
Through partnerships with business and government the GEWL Initiative aims to aid gender equality in working life through research that provides insight into working lives across all industries, sectors and employment levels while identifying drivers and obstacles, and offering independent, research-based solutions.
“The GEWL Research Team offers a focal point for collaboration between leading scholars, business practitioners and policymakers to explore, understand and respond to factors affecting women, men, work, employment, family, and community,” said Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill.
“Recent public and political debates about the future of work, family leave, industrial relations, access to childcare, declining birth rates and low levels of female representation on company boards, highlight the need for quality research in this field.
“We engage closely with debates about trends impacting the workforce and bridge the gap between academia and policy.”
Removing the barriers and disincentives to women's full workforce participation could add up to $25 billion per annum to the Australian economy. It will boost productivity, drive inclusive workplaces and reduce social inequalities. Action to address the pervasive drivers of workplace gender inequality is urgently required to build back better and fairer from the COVID pandemic.