From Kitchen To Office Women In The Workforce (Australian)

1101 words - 4 pages

The role of women in the workforce as well as society's attitudes towards them has changed dramatically over time in Australia. Women have been allowed to open the door to the world of work and this is a great improvement from what it used to be. They are generally adopted and accepted into our workforce but much still needs to be done to ensure that this is preserved.Once, women were personified as the mother figure that stayed at home, cooking, cleaning, looking after the children and relied solely on her husband for an income. Women were not allowed to work and frowned upon if they did. At this time, during the 1800's and early 1900's, women played an extremely minimal or no role in the workforce. Stereotypes that women were incapable, fragile and incompetent shaped the attitudes of society of that time, and these stereotypes still exist today.Around 1895 the government allowed the first women to work as typists, shorthand writers and machine operators. However, deep-seated attitudes prevented women from being hired and the few women that were clustered in more traditional roles, such as teaching and nursing. World War I saw a shortage of men. Women were hired in clerk positions that were previously dominated by males. Although the number of women in the workforce increased in 1938 to 9198, primarily as teachers (5536), they were paid little even for doing the same as men and were required to resign on marrying. 27.5% of women employees were temporary, even though their work was of an ongoing nature. This barred them from superannuation benefits and from access to promotion.World War II (1939-1945) began the change of the role of women in the workforce. Men went off to fight women entered into predominately male roles. Women were trained to work in factories to make ammunition and other goods for the war. This allowed many women to experience a new found independence and heralded a new determination to strive for a workforce that included them. When the war was over, attitudes remained the same. Men expected their wives to return to the home.The seventies produced significant advances for women, saw many protests and witnessed society's attitudes towards women begin to change. In 1972 came the landmark of the equal pay for work of equal value. In 1974 maternity leave was made available to all female staff and in 1975 the system of promotion was changed from seniority to a merit basis. The Anti-Discrimination Act was passed in 1977, prohibiting discrimination due to their marital status and gender.Although great progress was made, women were employed in a limited range of "female" occupations, nurses, teachers and cleaners. Few were professionals, managers or in the trade industry. There were dense barriers that restricted job opportunities. Physical requirements came with many jobs. Beliefs that women were weak, less talented and unsuited to physical exertion prevented the growth of many opportunities. People feared the indiscretions of men...

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