Calm down dear

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's 'misogynist speech' continues to reverberate around the world.  It was classic naming and shaming.  Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition was taken to task for sharing his allegedly quotidian Aussie male view.

Abbott is on record for saying that abortion for pregnant 14 year olds are 'the easy way out', housewives do the ironing, and in an interview on the paucity of women in Australia's institutions of power, said to the interviewer, 'If it's true... that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?' He further qualified his position by adding: '... but what if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue commands?'

It took a woman, albeit a politician, to put things in perspective. No one has named hypocrisy and bigotry with such fire, such clarity and such conviction, in a long, long, time.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission report, nearly one in five complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 relate to sexual harassment. The vast majority of these take place in the workplace. Less than one third of interviewees from the Commission's telephone survey who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace made a formal report or complaint about the sexual harassment.

While we smugly congratulate ourselves that in the UK, men are a tad further down the evolutionary road, women in the UK workplace aren't doing particularly well. A BIS 2010 report stated that 8 percent of UK women experienced unfair treatment (discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment) at the workplace.

While youth unemployment (rightly) gets into the press, unreported this summer were the 1.1 million unemployed women.  For every 10 jobs lost, 8 are lost by women

At the top, there's the ever present glass cliff phenomenon, where people who are 'different' have more difficult career hurdles and more precarious progression trajectories.  This is confirmed by the ECHR 2010 report, How Fair is Britain, which reported that women and ethnic minority groups were more likely to report experiencing discrimination in relation to promotion than White men.

In UK boardrooms, 17 per cent are at director level in the UK, up 10 per cent on 2003. According to a 14 country comparison by the New Zealand National Equality Opportunities Network, in 2010, the UK boardrooms came 10th, considerably lower than Spain, South Africa, and the United States. Australia and New Zealand came in lowest at 13th and 14th respectively.

There is no room for complacency.

Gillard struck a chord because she took a stand against insidious creeping bigotry and institutional winks-and-nods.  She even prompted Macquarie Dictionary to update its definition of misogyny from 'hatred of women' to 'entrenched hatred of women'.  It's imperative that in our private and professional lives to ensure that diversity is taken for granted in every sphere.

Let's salute Gillard's for her cajones and take her lead in refusing to give tacit consent to bigotry.

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  • As an addendum, the World Economic Forum has since published the Global Gender Gap Report 2012 -

    Introduced in 2006, the index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health-based criteria and provides country rankings that allow for comparison across regions and income groups and over time.

    The UK is ranked at 18th, below the Nordic countries (1st-4th & 7th), Ireland (5th), Phillippines (8th) and Nicaragua (9th). Iceland topped the index for the fourth year running.

  • This lady has guts....she does not take prisoners!!!!