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Westpac report reveals perceptions of gender inequality starts early

01 March 2015

 

  • A quarter (26 percent) of Australian teens have personally experienced gender inequality[1]
    • 35 percent of young women / 18 percent of young men
  • Over half (52 percent) of teens believe that companies with equal opportunities for men and women are more successful

  • Yet only a quarter (26 percent) believe that women have the same opportunities to advance in the workplace as men

Ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March The Westpac Youth Gender Report has revealed that even at a young age, 26 percent of Australian teenagers have personally experienced gender inequality, with the incidence significantly higher for young women (35 percent) and also present for a considerable portion of young men (18 percent).

The Westpac Report surveyed over 1,000 Australian secondary students aged 14 – 18 and uncovered that young Australians are passionate about gender issues, with almost nine in ten (88 percent) teens agreeing that gender equality is very important. Interestingly, while over half (52 percent) believe that companies with equal opportunities for men and women are more successful, only a quarter (26 percent) believe that women have the same opportunities to advance in the workplace as men.

“Unfortunately the perspectives articulated by these young boys and girls are accurate; generally, women don’t yet have the same opportunities to advance in the workplace as men. However, what is positive is that we can reach these adolescents at a critical point in their development and start invoking change where it counts – with the next generation. Westpac has recognised the importance of having women in leadership positions; not only is it fair, but it makes good business sense and will ensure Australia’s future prosperity. With more than 42 percent of leadership roles currently held by women at Westpac, we are well on our way to reaching the goal of equal representation of genders in leadership roles by 2017. We encourage the broader community and other companies to think and act in more progressive ways to drive equality across the nation,” said Larke Riemer, Director of Women’s Markets at Westpac.

“A key issue to consider is gender stereotyping in the workplace. Our research found that these Australian teenagers are already assigning gender to particular industries – and the results are rather alarming, with ‘Homemaker’ as the top ranked gender specific industry associated with women, closely followed by Admin Support; whereas men are aligned with Trades, Mining and Engineering.

“We need to address these thought processes during young people’s formative years across both genders – as much of it is unconscious. Education is the starting point. For young women, we need to reaffirm that they can do or be anything; similarly society needs to embrace the prospect of men being ‘homemakers’ to allow their partners’ careers to flourish if that is the best decision for their families,” said Ms Riemer.  

To help to start this important conversation with the next generation, Westpac is funding Young Vagabond to run their recently launched workshops for year nine students, designed to change the perceptions of adolescents at a critical stage in their development process, empowering them to think critically about how gender stereotypes affect their lives.

The workshops engage students to look at traditional and modern definitions of gender presented by various mediums such as advertising and social media. Students are broken into male and female groups and challenged to consider how these messages align with their own gender identify. The purpose is to draw students’ attention to stereotypes, which they were perhaps unaware of, prompting them to unpack these preconceptions and allow them to assess situations differently in the future.

Following a successful pilot at Frankston High in Victoria, the Young Vagabond workshops are currently rolling out at 10 secondary schools around the state.  In addition, Westpac will announce the opportunity for schools in New South Wales to join the program as part of its International Women’s Day program, offering the workshop to a further 10 schools to be announced later this year.

Ms Riemer said, “It is our hope that this program encourages communities to start having open conversations about gender at school and at home. Our research highlighted that parents are the key point of influence for teens with 59% looking to their parents as the number one source of guidance about their future career aspirations; emphasising the importance of gender conversations at home.

“It’s our hope that these workshops motivate students to start this dialogue from an informed place. The pilot showed us this is already starting to have an effect with parents and students coming forward with unprompted positive feedback on the impact of the workshops”, said Ms Riemer.  

 

About the research

The Westpac Youth Gender Report was commissioned by Westpac and powered by Sweeney Research. It was driven by an online polling of 1,007 Australians, sourced from an Online Panel. A copy of the executive summary of the report is available upon request.

 

About Westpac Women’s Markets

Westpac was the first Australian bank with a unit exclusively dedicated to supporting women. The Women's Markets team works alongside female business owners and professional women to help them build sustainable and profitable careers.

Westpac has a long and proud history of supporting gender equity. The business is committed to encouraging women into leadership positions and is well on its way to achieving the target of 50 percent of women in leadership roles by 2017.

 

About rubyconnection.com.au

rubyconnection.com.au is Westpac’s interactive online community designed to inspire, educate, promote and connect Australian women no matter what they do, where they live and who they bank with. Ruby provides an opportunity for all Australian women to learn from each other. For more information please visit: www.rubyconnection.com.au.

 

About Young Vagabond

Young Vagabond founders Haylee Collins and Ashleigh Grogan launched the first edition of Young Vagabond magazine in 2013. Haylee and Ashleigh shared a common passion for furthering the empowerment and equality of women around the world and have continued to grow and evolve Young Vagabond, with 2014 seeing the magazine go digital and the organisation growing to encompass school workshops, events and yearly memberships.

 

The workshops engage students to look at traditional and modern definitions of gender presented by various mediums such as advertising and social media. Students are broken into male and female groups and challenged to consider how these messages align with their own gender identify. The purpose is to draw students’ attention to stereotypes, which they were perhaps unaware of, prompting them to unpack these preconceptions and allow them to assess situations differently in the future.

 

Westpac’s Women’s Markets is sponsoring Young Vagabond Workshops across ten Victorian Schools between February and March 2015:

Essendon Keilor College, Essendon

Hoppers Crossing Secondary College, Hoppers Crossing 

Mount Erin College, Frankston 

Catholic Regional College, Melton

Gladstone Park Secondary College, Gladstone Park

Castlemaine Secondary School, Castlemaine

Elisabeth Murdoch College, Langwarrin 

Thornbury High School, Thornbury

The Alpine Leadership School, Dinner Plain

Orbost Secondary College, Orbost

 

Westpac will fund a further ten school across New South Wales, with details to be announced later this year. For more information please visit www.youngvagabond.com.au


 

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