Women on the front-line

By Kath Deakin - PhD Candidate, Centre for Social Impact, Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University of Technology

26 Apr 2020

At a time when we are all feeling the strain of the Coronavirus impacts, it is hard to keep an eye on issues important to us before the outbreak. Issues like gender equity risk dropping off the agenda.

Now more than ever, our commitment to gender equity in our sector is critical. Evidence from across the globe shows that when a significant health crisis hits, women are more adversely impacted than men. This is not about being divisive. This is fact.

A fact not just for developing countries. We know in Australia that the workers most exposed to the Corona virus are our health and personal carers whom are predominately women. What is less known is that the same gender trend exists in the Australian finance and banking sector.

Over the past decade we have started to form a clearer statistical picture of the gender workforce composition in the Australian finance and insurance sector.  The Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Data Explorer shows that our sector today is clearly somewhere women want to, and are, working. Financial and Insurance Services is a ‘feminised’ workforce made up of 54.7% women (the average across other industries is women representing 49.7% of the workforce).[1]

Thus, the bulk of our front-line non-management sales staff are women (64.1%). Among larger companies (5000 plus staff) the percentage increases to 76.2% women in non-management sales roles.[2] We know this already though don’t we? When we walk into most branches, who serves us? Women.

Longitudinal Australian research shows that recognising women as vital on-the ground leaders in times of crisis provides an opportunity to challenge out-dated gender stereotypes. Let’s keep checking in with these women. Let’s keep listening. Let’s also remember their contribution.

Bio

Kath Deakin is a PhD Candidate, Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology currently researching Australian bank workplace gender equity.

References

[1] WGEA (2020) ‘WGEA Data Explorer: Financial and Insurance Services’  https://data.wgea.gov.au/industries/27#gender_comp_content

[2] WGEA (2020) ‘WGEA Data Explorer: Financial and Insurance Services’  https://data.wgea.gov.au/industries/27#gender_comp_content