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A history of Women at Work

o A surplus of men in the early colony meant a high marriage rate.

o Wages were good enough for men to support a family.
o Women were expected to take responsibility for domestic life.
o The burden of this expectation plus lack of education and social acceptance
meant a sex segregated workforce.
o By the end of the 19th century women typically worked as servants, factory
workers, dressmakers, shop assistants and cooks.
o In 1907 the Harvester Judgement determined a basic wage which was
enough for a man to support his family.
o Women earned a different amount.
o In 1912 The Fruit Pickers saw male and female workers paid the same rate of
o In 1959 women earned the right to equal pay, but the workforce was so
segregated that man and women rarely performed the same jobs.
o Now, womens participation rate in the workforce is approx. 54% whereas
mens participation rate is approx. 75%.
o Men and women earn different rates of pay on average.
Men perform jobs that are better paid.
More men are in the workforce.
Women perform more part-time work.
More men are in managerial roles.
o However, in many Australian homes, both men and women work, yet
statistically men still only complete 25% of the housework or less.

Anti-Discrimination Laws
o Sex discrimination is described as unlawful behaviour which disadvantages
people on the grounds of sex, marital status and pregnancy.
o Exceptions to the SDA:
It is not unlawful to give one sex provisions that are unavailable to the
other (example: provisions related to pregnancy and childbirth).
Charitable benefits are allowed (example: scholarships).
Religious staff are exempt (example: Priests, nuns).
o The Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunities for Women) Act (Cth) 1986
This Act aims to provide equality of opportunity for women in the
workplace, not to guarantee equality in numbers.
Businesses with over 100 employees are required to report to
parliament regarding compliance with the law.

Federal Anti-Discrimination Bodies

o These bodies implement the Sex Discrimination Act, the Racial Discrimination
and the Human Rights and Equals Opportunities Act.
o The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission investigates and
o The Federal Court enforces Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
NSW Anti-Discrimination Bodies
o These bodies implement the Anti-Discrimination Act.
o The Anti-Discrimination Board mediates and investigates.
o The Equal Opportunities Tribunal enforces Anti-Discrimination Board
decisions and can apply fines, injunctions and award damages.

Sexual Harassment
o Generally sexual harassment includes behaviours which are:
o It also includes any or all of the following actions:
Suggestive behaviour
Sexual jokes
Sexual propositions
Sexual or physical contact
Intrusive sexual questioning
Sexual insults or taunts
Sexually offensive gestures
Sexually offensive or explicit material displayed in a public place
o The main test for whether behaviour is sexual harassment or not is: How it
affects the person it is directed towards, not the intention of the person doing
the harassment.